Damain Lillard reportedly has many reasons he wants to play for the Miami Heat, and the star guard made some of them clear in his first comments explaining why he requested a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers last month.
The 33-year-old expressed his focus on winning a championship while confirming he has requested a trade out of Portland.
“Sources say Lillard is also attracted to the renowned ‘Heat Culture,’ consistent winning at a high level, franchise stability, no state taxes and marketing opportunities,” wrote Marc J. Spears of Andscape.
Financial concerns aside — Lillard is set to make more than $45 million from his contract this season — the opportunity to win his first NBA title is very unlikely to come with the Trail Blazers, who have not made the playoffs the past two seasons and have gotten as far as the Western Conference Finals just once (in 2019) in Lillard’s 11 seasons there.
“It’s higher than it’s ever been,” Lillard said of his desire to win his first NBA title. “When you’re younger and you’re winning, you realize that you got time. When you establish yourself in the league and you know that you’re here to stay, you feel like you have time. The older you get, that just means more time that you’ve put into it, especially when you’re at the top of the game and you’re having all these individual accomplishments, it becomes more and more of a priority to have the ultimate accomplishment, which is why we play the game, in winning the championship.
“I would say the desire for that now is as high as it’s probably going to be. That’s literally the thing at the top of my list. When I wake up and I got to get up and go do what I got to do, I got to train, I got to make time for my kids, I still got to lift, I got to do all these things and I got to make sure that training and the preparation is still my priority. Even with being a father of three now, not one, and having all these other responsibilities, you need something that you feel pretty strong about to stay committed the way I’ve been committed. It’s as high as it’s going to get. That’s ultimately what I want to experience and that’s what I want to get done.”
The Andscape report mentions Portland’s trade of C.J. McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans in February 2022 as a turning point. Not only were Lillard and him very close friends, the Trail Blazers made the playoffs every season with McCollum but have not made them since he left.
The Heat, on the other hand, are coming off their second trip to the NBA Finals in the past four seasons, having lost to the Denver Nuggets in 2023 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo as its core, Miami would be among the favorites to win the title this season if it were able to add Lillard.
That is no closer to being a reality, however, with talks between the Heat and Trail Blazers at a standstill. Miami’s packages have not been to Portland’s liking, and the Trail Blazers at this point reportedly have “no interest” in doing a deal with the Heat.
Miami reportedly has been prepared to offer several first-round picks — with Tyler Herro going to a third team for assets — expiring contracts, a young player and potentially second-round picks and draft swaps to Portland for Lillard.
The waiting game has limited the Heat’s ability to fortify its roster for this season, but they reportedly have Kelly Oubre Jr. and Christian Woods on their radar if they can actually complete a trade for the seven-time All-Star.
A team like that would be formidable indeed, which could put Lillard that much closer to his stated goal of finally winning an NBA championship.