Mannix: Celtics need to 'circle Trail Blazers like a vulture'


As our own Chris Forsberg recently explained, the Boston Celtics trading for Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard this offseason is a pipe dream.

But what about during the regular season?

If Lillard remains with the Trail Blazers in 2021-22, all eyes will be on Portland as it could opt to part ways with the 31-year-old All-Star and other pieces after a slow start. If you ask Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, this should be a focus for president of basketball operations Brad Stevens and the Celtics.

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"If you're Boston, you are just circling the Portland Trail Blazers like a vulture," Mannix said Wednesday on Early Edition. "You are just watching them and seeing what they do, because maybe Damian Lillard comes back next year to that team, but that's not a good team.

"And if that team starts out like 11-20 or something as we get into January, they are going to be looking to make a move. And if they're looking to make a move and blow that whole thing up, I want to be first in line for either Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum with assets in hand when they decide to make that deal."

Any trade bringing Lillard to Boston likely would have to include All-Star wing Jaylen Brown. Would that kind of deal be wise of the Celtics?

"If you're talking Damian Lillard, yes. If you're talking CJ McCollum, that's a deeper conversation," Mannix said, much to the chagrin of Forsberg.


"[Lillard] just turned 31 as a top-six player," Mannix added. "You can't have enough of those guys, give me a break. Your window is right now. When you have a team like that looking to make a deal, you want to be out there with your assets and there's only so many teams that the Blazers can trade Damian Lillard to.

"They're not trading him to Orlando. It's gonna be a discussion with Damian Lillard where he wants to go to, and that would be a championship-level team he wants to play for. That would be Boston, Philadelphia, maybe Golden State. There's only a handful of teams I think could make a serious run at Damian Lillard."

Lillard recently addressed the rumors of him wanting out of Portland, saying he "hasn't made any firm decision" on his future.

Hear more from Mannix in the video above.