“He just wouldn’t go,” a person familiar with Lillard’s thinking told Sportsnaut. “He just wouldn’t report.”
It has been reported that Lillard’s agent is telling other teams not to trade for the star guard after he requested a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers. It appears that Lillard only intends to play for the Heat.
“The person stressed that the Damian Lillard is ‘not a disruptor’ and wants to honor his contract in the 2023-24 season,” Medina wrote. “But even if he doesn’t have a no-trade clause after agreeing to a two-year, $122 million extension that keeps him under contract through the 2026-27 season, Lillard has hoped for the Blazers to accommodate his trade request out of respect for both his resume and for his contributions to the Blazers’ franchise.”
While Lillard wants the Blazers to send him to the team of his desire, his request also puts Portland in a tough spot.
The team is being forced to move its best player and arguably the greatest player in the franchise’s history, and Lillard is attempting to take away all negotiating power from Portland.
The Blazers would likely be able to drum up the price for the former first-round pick if they could shop him to any team. However, Lillard is doing everything he can to make that hard on Portland.
During the 2022-23 season, Lillard was great for the Blazers, but the team failed to make the play-in tournament in the Western Conference. The seven-time All-NBA selection averaged 32.2 points and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.
If Lillard ends up getting dealt to Miami, the team will immediately become one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals in the 2023-24 season. The Heat made the NBA Finals last season despite being just the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Since Lillard doesn’t have a no-trade clause, Portland could attempt to negotiate with other teams to move him. However, the team’s best leverage may be holding out on a Lillard deal until Miami comes with a package that it deems worthy of moving the star guard.
Either way, the Heat are certainly in a great spot to land Lillard given how badly he wants to play for the franchise.