It’s been strongly believed that Damian Lillard would only accept the Miami Heat as a trade destination after requesting to be dealt from the Portland Trail Blazers more than two months ago, and that idea was seemingly reaffirmed in a recent report from NBA insider Shams Charania.
However, a new update on the matter may indicate that there’s more to the situation.
“The Athletic’s Shams Charania stated Monday that he has been told that Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard would only report to training camp with his current team or Miami, his preferred destination,” wrote Aaron Fentress of Oregon Live.
“‘I’m told the only two training camps that Damian Lillard would report to, in theory, Portland and Miami,’ Charania said on The Rally. ‘So, if a team like Toronto, for instance, were to trade for Damian Lillard, I do not believe Lillard would even report. I believe that that standing trade request would still be there if he were to be traded to a team like Toronto, or anyone else really that wants to take a chance at this situation.’
“NBA sources tell The Oregonian/OregonLive that this claim is only partially true.
“This type of firm stance from Lillard was originally on the table, according to NBA sources, but the seven-time All-Star backed off of that stance in July when the NBA got involved in what has become a sordid mess since he requested a trade to Miami on July 1.”
Rumors linking Lillard to the Heat gained steam around the start of the offseason, and after hesitating to see how the Trail Blazers planned to improve, he did ask his longtime team to trade him.
His agent made it clear that Lillard wanted to play only for the Heat and warned other teams against trading for the 33-year-old, which drew the attention of the NBA. The league reportedly sent a memo to all 30 teams about the situation and warned Lillard that he could be subject to discipline if he were to make any future comments about only playing for Miami.
It was thought that the league might even step in to veto a possible Lillard-to-Miami trade, but that doesn’t appear likely, according to a report. According to another report, Lillard will report to training camp if he is still with the Trail Blazers, in part to avoid jeopardizing the salary of $45.6 million he is set to earn this season.
After a frustrating period of trade talks, Portland reportedly reached a point where it had “no interest” in making a deal with Miami for the seven-time All-Star. However, there is perhaps some positive momentum toward a deal, with the sides ready to re-engage in talks before training camps open.
That seems to be the only avenue toward an acceptable conclusion for all sides. Even though Lillard now may be willing to accept a deal to somewhere other than Miami, that doesn’t mean there are other teams lining up to trade for him.
Tyler Herro likely remains the centerpiece of any Heat offer, and they may have to include Nikola Jovic and/or Jaime Jaquez Jr. to entice the Blazers.
Time is running out with the 2023-24 NBA season set to begin next month, so the Heat and Trail Blazers could be feeling a greater sense of urgency that may lead to a trade finally getting done.