It has been a week since Damian Lillard requested a trade from the Portland Trailblazers. In that time, Lillard had made it clear that he wants to play for the Miami Heat and only the Miami Heat. Reports have come out that Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, has been calling teams that aren’t the Heat and warning them that if they trade for Lillard, they’ll be trading for an unhappy superstar. Some see this as an attempt for Goodwin to force Portland’s hand in a trade to Miami.
For Miami, they can only do so much with the roster they have. Lillard has made it known that he wants to play with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, who take up almost half of Miami’s cap space. Even before Lillard requested a trade, the main package from Miami being discussed looked like this:
- Tyler Herro
- A combination of players including Duncan Robinson, Kyle Lowry, or younger players
- Several future first-round draft picks
Miami’s potential trade packages are not the most exciting to Portland, with multiple reports coming out that the Trailblazers have no interest in Tyler Herro and are looking for another team to take him in a multi-team deal. While reports noted that Portland was going to honor Lillard’s request and try to get him to his preferred destination after 11 seasons of loyalty, it would not be in the best interest of the franchise to only trade Lillard to Miami. Teams including Boston, New York, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, and Utah have all been reported as having interest in Dame while also having more assets to trade to Portland.
With Portland heading into a full rebuild, their focus will be on young stars and future draft picks to build around 2023 draft pick Scoot Henderson. While Miami can only offer a few future first-round draft picks and a couple promising young players, Brooklyn has nine future first-round picks between 2024 and 2030 while New York has 11 and Utah has 15, in addition to young stars they can trade. All these teams would be in contention with Damian Lillard on their roster. Those teams would also be taking a huge risk in trading for Lillard, who has several more years on his contract.
In his 58 games played during the 2022-23 season, Lillard averaged 32.2 PPG, 7.3 APG, and 4.8 RPG while shooting 46% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc. With Lillard being 33 by the time the season starts, Lillard may only have a few more years left in his prime. Still under contract through the 2026-27 season (if he accepts his $63M player option for the 2026-27 season), Lillard still has a lot to give no matter where he ends up.
While Miami is Lillard’s only preferred destination, there is no guarantee that he will end up there. Blazers General Manager Joe Cronin must listen to all offers being made for Lillard. With the relationship between Portland and Lillard quickly souring, it’s in Portland’s best interest to focus on the future of the franchise. As for Lillard, it’s likely he’s played his last game in a Portland uniform. In his 11 seasons with the Blazers, he is currently second in games played, first in points, second in field goals, first in three-point field goals, and first in free throws. His eventual exit from Portland may be turning ugly, but it cannot be ignored that Lillard is one of, if not the greatest player in Trailblazers’ history. Until a Damian Lillard trade is made, all off-season attention will be on Lillard and Portland.