(Photo Courtesy of Yahoo Sports) “Damian Lillard looking to leave Portland”
On July 1st, 2023, Damian Lillard, an 11-year-old veteran of The Portland Trail Blazers requested a trade. He spent many years with the organization, taking them to the playoffs every year since he was drafted except for the previous NBA season. Now, it is September, and as of this article, he has yet to be traded. It’s been two months since his trade request and not only has it made very little no progress, but the progress that has been made is anything but pretty.
When Lillard requested a trade, he informed the organization he specifically wanted to be traded to the Miami Heat. He is friends with star players Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The Miami Heat made it to the NBA finals as the eight seed, beating the former 2x MVP Giannis led Milwaukee Bucks in five games, the up-and-coming New York Knicks in six games, and, title favorites, The Boston Celtics in a seven-game thriller.
Despite the relationships, it is easy to see why Damian would wish to only move to Miami. It is his best chance to win a championship. If the Miami Heat could do that as an eight seed, imagine what they could with Damian Lillard. An offensive machine and someone who will decide games. In spite of this, The Trail Blazers have been tentative in negotiations with the hHeat.
The Miami Heat lack appealing assets for the Blazers, with their most appealing piece being all-star guard and sixth man of the year Tyler Herro, but the Blazers already have a crowded backcourt in Scoot Henderson, Anfernee Simons, and Shaedon Sharpe. Beyond that, the team is full of role players and two rookies that may or not provide some value. The Blazers were interested in Bam Adebayo, but he is a key piece for the Heat, and negotiations have been stalemated ever since.
Portland wants the best package possible. A number of teams have inquired about Lillard, but his agent, Aaron Goodwin, has informed teams it’s not advised, as they would be trading for an “unhappy player” and it is believed Damian would not show up to training camp if he were to be traded to a team that’s not the Miami Heat.
Despite this, Joe Cronin has made it clear he will not be fleeced or lose leverage because of Damian Lillard’s ultimatum, telling reporters that, “if it takes months, it takes months.” And that has been the most reports we have gotten on the situation. There have been rumors swirling, but they will stay as rumors until reliable journalists report otherwise.
The Blazers’ hesitancy towards Lillard’s wishes is the biggest topic in this situation. Damian has been with the franchise from the beginning. Through unlucky injuries and questionable offseason moves, he has stayed with them and hoped they would put a winning team around him. But this has not been the case.
Now a common saying is Lillard’s loyalty is not being rewarded. Damian gave everything to the organization, and they failed to reciprocate. As stated before, the Blazers have had extremely questionable offseason moves, never giving Lillard enough help. The truth is, however, it doesn’t matter.
It can be assumed The Portland Trail Blazers are appreciative of Damian Lillard’s loyalty and morals, but in the end, they are a business, and they will do what’s best for the franchise. It’s a cold reality of the situation and it begs to be seen whether or not the Blazers will do the right thing by moral standards.
Even if The Blazers decide to not do business with The Heat, how much could they realistically get for their star player? Lillard is a wonderful player, he averaged a career-best 32.8 ppg, 4.8 rbs, and 7.3 asts. But he is 34-year-old on a 4-year 176-million-dollar contract.
As he ages, he will not get better, but possibly even regress. If he does, then whichever team that traded for him will be stuck with him until his contract expires, not to mention he could be injury-prone as well. Do other teams really want to throw that much at The Blazers if they know this is the outcome?
No official sources have stated the trade is anywhere close to being done and the NBA season is just one month away from beginning. Both teams need this trade to be done, but it all falls on The Blazers. Will they settle for a lesser offer and begin rebuilding? Or will they continue to hold out and waste their star player prime?