The Boston Celtics are in the Damian Lillard business, it appears.
How serious the Celtics are about acquiring the Portland Trail Blazers' All-Star guard remains unclear. But Boston was one of several teams that contacted Portland after Lillard requested a trade from the Blazers on Saturday, Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes reported Sunday night.
"The Clippers, the Timberwolves, Pelicans, Boston Celtics ... I’m pretty sure there were more -- those were the teams that I know called out to reach out to see what it would take (to land Lillard)," Haynes told co-host Marc Stein on the "#thisleague UNCUT" podcast.
The Miami Heat reportedly are the clear favorites to acquire Lillard, who even admitted publicly he'd prefer Miami over teams like the Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks. Boston would have to send out more than $40 million in salary to take on Lillard's $45.6 million cap hit for 2023-24, and that would mean either parting with several rotation players -- one scenario outlined by MassLive's Brian Robb would involve sending Robert Williams, Malcolm Brogdon, Payton Pritchard, Luke Kornet and draft picks to Portland -- or trading All-Star wing Jaylen Brown.
You could debate whether it's worth it for Boston to pay up for a player who turns 33 in July and is 4-8 in 12 career playoff series. On the other hand, Lillard is still one of the NBA's most talented players -- he averaged 32.3 points per game last season, third-best in the league -- and the Celtics likely felt the need to at least do their due diligence about what it would take to land Lillard.
The seven-time All-Star also is very close with Celtics star Jayson Tatum from their time as USA Basketball teammates, and Andscape's Marc Spears suggested on ESPN's "NBA Today" this weekend that Tatum may be trying to recruit Lillard to Boston.
Boston's reported contact with Portland may explain why Brown has yet to sign a supermax contract extension with the Celtics despite being eligible to do so at 12:01 a.m. ET on July 1. The C's can't trade Brown for a full season after he agrees to the supermax, so if they're at least remotely considering including Brown in a possible Lillard trade, they'd need to hold off on extending Brown until they see the Lillard situation through.
Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens already made a big swing this offseason by landing Kristaps Porzingis as part of a three-team trade that sent Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies. Adding Lillard would represent an even bigger swing, and while a deal seems unlikely at this point, the fact that Boston even inquired about Lillard suggests the team is still looking for ways to upgrade its roster.