Damian Lillard, the star point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, has expressed his desire to be traded, as reported by Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and other sources. After spending his entire 11-year career with the Blazers, Lillard is seeking a new team where he can continue his basketball journey. The Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and Philadelphia 76ers are among the potential destinations that make sense for Lillard.
According to The Athletic, Lillard’s trade request has been referred to as ‘Miami-or-Bust.’ This news surfaced earlier in the day, with the Miami Heat emerging as his preferred landing spot among teams that have shown interest in acquiring him. Over the years, Lillard has gained widespread recognition for his clutch performances, earning the nickname ‘Dame time.’
However, recent reports indicate that Lillard has set his sights solely on joining the Miami Heat, leaving no room for other possibilities. The Portland Trail Blazers have been actively exploring options with other teams, as any potential trade involving the Heat would likely require the involvement of a third team. It appears that Portland is not particularly interested in acquiring Tyler Herro, the sixth man and scoring wing of the Heat, who has been mentioned in trade discussions.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that rival front offices believe the Trail Blazers are seeking a return that includes a star-level player in exchange for Lillard. It is worth noting that Portland is not limiting trade discussions to just the Miami Heat. Various reports suggest that a third team may need to be involved in any potential trade to facilitate the movement of players with unfavorable contracts from the Trail Blazers to other teams.
In comparison to other offers, Miami’s proposed package to the Blazers seems relatively underwhelming. The primary asset in their offer would likely be Tyler Herro, but his addition would not make much sense given Portland’s current backcourt composition, which includes Anfernee Simons and incoming rookie Scoot Henderson. To make the deal more appealing to the Trail Blazers, Miami or Portland would need to find another trade partner interested in acquiring Herro. However, the Miami Heat possess several first-round draft picks, which can be used to enhance their trade package.
The Trail Blazers now face a dilemma. They must decide whether to prioritize sending their franchise star to his preferred destination, potentially accepting a subpar trade return and enduring a challenging immediate future, or if they should aim to strike a balance between honoring Lillard’s desire to join a championship contender elsewhere and protecting the long-term interests of the franchise. However, Lillard’s strong desire to join the Miami Heat is likely to dampen trade offers from other teams interested in acquiring him.
The Miami Heat have been actively preparing for this scenario and are expected to aggressively pursue Lillard. Other potential suitors include the Brooklyn Nets, LA Clippers, and Philadelphia 76ers, as reported by ESPN. The Trail Blazers are likely to demand young players and draft assets in exchange for Lillard, considering his contributions to the franchise over the past 11 years.
Regarding the structure of a potential trade, the Heat would be willing to include all their assets except for Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Lillard’s desire to play alongside Butler and Adebayo in Miami is one of the factors driving his interest in joining the Heat. It has been reported that Lillard has no interest in being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, and the 76ers are unwilling to include young guard Tyrese Maxey in a trade. The LA Clippers have limited draft assets and possess only a few young players, such as Terence Mann and Bones Hyland, who are not highly regarded in the trade market. The trade assets that the Brooklyn Nets are willing to include, if any, remain unclear as they were not mentioned in ESPN’s report of teams interested.