The New York Knicks likely won't make it to the NBA Finals this year, barring an unexpected playoff run that sees them become the biggest underdog success stories in NBA history, but one big offseason move could boost them atop the Eastern Conference picture next season.
Yes, there is no denying that Lillard has been rumored to be exiting the Portland Trail Blazers for a few years now, and despite the rumors and indications that a Lillard exit is on the horizon, Lillard remains in Portland.
ESPN analyst, and Knicks fan, Stephen A. Smith has even pleaded with Lillard to take his talents to the Big Apple personally.
"I've had a long and lengthy relationship with Dame. I've got a lot of love for him," Smith said, according to Sports Illustrated. "I practically begged this man to be in New York City for the New York Knicks. I'd have given anything for him to end ... in the New York market in a New York Knicks uniform. He was never one that wanted to be with the (Los Angeles) Lakers."
"If he were to depart from Portland, the one place he would've wanted to be was the New York Knicks," Smith adds. "But, obviously, that never happened. It's a damn shame!"
"It's never going to happen, and it's very, very depressing. It's very depressing!" Smith said of Lillard joining the Knicks. "There's no one I ever wanted in a New York market, can you imagine Dame at the Garden?"
Smith isn't the only one pining for Lillard to play in New York, as Kevin Garnett has also expressed his desire to see Lillard in a Knicks uniform.
“Listen, if Dame Lillard gets to New York, and he does what he does in Portland in New York, he’ll be considered one of the best to ever to it. Like already" via Twitter.
But this summer may be the best opportunity yet to bring Dame to NYC - especially with the success former teammate Josh Hart has had with the Knicks this season.
The Blazers have already reportedly shut down Lillard, who has been dealing with "right calf tightness", for the remainder of the season, via CBS Sports.
Furthering the notion that Lillard could finally leave Portland this offseason is The Athletic's Shams Charania, who said, during an appearance on FanDuel TV - “I’m told Damian Lillard essentially has been shut down for the remainder of the season."
“But I think when you look at this for Damian Lillard, you now have to wonder if he plays another game for the Portland Trail Blazers.”
“He’s 33 in July,” Charania explained. “Where is his future going to be? I expect there to be some real conversations this offseason about how this team can improve and if they can’t, where do they go with Damian Lillard and his future.”
It seems more possible than ever that Lillard would be available, which would send sports social media into a frenzy and all the chatter would likely crash any sports talk app, but the Knicks wouldn't be the only suitor.
Would they be willing to give up the lofty price tag the Blazers would ask? Could they outbid other teams?
It remains to be seen - but the idea of Madison Square Garden playing host to a potential NBA Finals game with Lillard at the forefront is exciting.