Knicks already calling about Damian Lillard after Blazers’ frustrating playoff exit

On April thirtieth, The Post reported the Knicks will monitor famous person level guard Damian Lillard’s scenario in Portland this offseason.

The monitoring has begun – huge time.

Soon after Lillard’s Trail Blazers have been eradicated within the playoffs Wednesday evening by Denver in six video games, the previous Weber State level guard posted a cryptic Instagram, citing lyrics from rapper Nipsey Hussle.

“How long should I stay dedicated? How long til opportunity meet preparation?”

The publish got here after Lillard’s press convention, wherein he sounded despondent with the established order after one other first-round ouster in Portland.

“We didn’t win a championship, so obviously where we are now isn’t good enough,” Lillard stated. “I don’t know what a shakeup seems like, or what modifications might be made or could possibly be made, however clearly as it’s wasn’t adequate.

“We got here up a brief in opposition to a group with out their start line guard and their capturing guard. Will Barton didn’t play and Jamal Murray didn’t play and we got here up brief. Obviously, the place we’re isn’t adequate to win a championship if it’s not adequate to get out of a first-round collection with two of their finest three, 4 gamers not on the ground.’’

Damian Lillard reacts after shooting a three during Game 6 against Denver.
Damian Lillard reacts after capturing a 3 throughout Game 6 in opposition to Denver.
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“The only thing I was concerned with was coming into this playoff and making a strong push,’’ Lillard added. “To come up short in the first round and the season to end on our home floor is disappointing. That’s as far as I am with it now. I’m not thinking about the other s–t – the change or whatever.”

Clearly, NBA groups have seen this as a gap. Stephen A. Smith revealed on ESPN’s “First Take” Friday that “six or seven” groups have already referred to as the Blazers to inquire about Lillard’s companies. One of them was the Knicks, together with the Heat and Clippers.

Lillard has three assured years left on his contract, and stands to make $43 million subsequent season.

The key to the Knicks’ potential Lillard bid is their assistant coach, Johnnie Bryant, who’s near the star level guard and is one in every of his mentors from Oakland. Bryant is a former Jazz assistant who joined Thibodeau’s employees in 2020.

“That’s my huge brother,’’ Lillard stated in 2017 of Bryant. “I bear in mind barely being within the seventh grade, preparing for an AAU event, and Johnnie was in faculty at Utah, and they’d come again and scrimmage us on outdoors courts with no internet.’’

The Knicks even have a trove of draft picks – 5 over the subsequent three drafts – and cap area to make a commerce simpler. Their younger commerce chips embody Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, although after the Atlanta collection uncovered them at middle the Knicks could also be much less keen to maneuver Robinson.

With the Knicks determined for a place to begin guard and a famous person after their five-game ouster to Atlanta, Lillard matches each classes. The Knicks are doubtless keen so as to add three first-round picks to a deal.

Eyebrows have been raised final month over a Chris Haynes article on Yahoo that sounded as if Lillard was shedding persistence with the Blazers. (Haynes is considered being near Lillard.)

“No one has ever questioned the struggle in Lillard,’’ Haynes wrote. “But it’s truthful to ask if he’s been combating the great struggle alone?

“Simply put, Lillard has not acquired the assistance he must win a title on this period. As he turns 31 this summer time and contemplating all he’s finished for the franchise, a extra aggressive, dangerous method is required with a purpose to pair him with one other bona fide star.’’

Lillard denied the subsequent day he put up Haynes to write down the piece, however acknowledged they’re shut.

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