Editor’s Note: This piece was written prior to the news that the Milwaukee Bucks are reportedly trading for Damian Lillard.
The dominant topic around the NBA right now is whether Damian Lillard will be traded in the next week, and if so, which team will win the bidding to bring the All-NBA point guard to town. The Cleveland Cavaliers, a team with two small guards and a paucity of first-round picks, are almost certainly out of the Lillard sweepstakes directly.
That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be working the phones and trying to be a part of Lillard negotiations. You only have to look back to the James Harden trade in 2021 to see why; the Cavs managed to work their way into the Harden blockbuster and landed All-Star center Jarrett Allen in the process.
How could the Cavaliers get involved in a Lillard trade as a third team? They could sit on the fringes, perhaps taking a role player that neither team wants for a nominal cost. They could also get involved in a more significant way, upgrading their core in the process.
Let’s look more closely at that second path, where the Cavs use a Lillard 3-team trade to add a star to the mix. This particular situation could be the perfect one to allow the Cavaliers to accomplish what they could not on their own, and make them all the more dangerous in the playoffs in the process.
What would that trade look like?