Back in September, the Portland Trail Blazers dealt star floor general Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team trade.
But a recent report suggests that the Trail Blazers were prepared to send Lillard to the Miami Heat before Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, made public comments that the point guard wanted to be dealt to Miami.
"From what I've gathered, Portland was prepared to send Damian Lillard to Miami, and then his agent gave comments to the media that rubbed people the wrong way in Portland, so they pivoted."
— FOX Sports Radio (@FoxSportsRadio) October 12, 2023
Lillard, 33, is fresh off arguably the best season of his pro career. He averaged a career-high 32.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game across 58 appearances with the Trail Blazers franchise during the 2022-23 regular season. Lillard also converted an impressive 46.3 percent of his field-goal attempts and 37.1 percent of his 3-point attempts a season ago.
The point guard spent 11 seasons in Portland and was consistently one of the best scorers in the NBA during his decade-plus stint with the Trail Blazers. He averaged 20-plus points per game in 10 of his 11 seasons with the team and averaged 25-plus per game in seven seasons.
Arguably the most successful Trail Blazers team that Lillard played for was during the 2018-19 season. They finished the regular season with an excellent 53-29 record — tied with the Houston Rockets for the third-best record in the Western Conference — and made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
The Trail Blazers defeated Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in the first round of the 2019 playoffs and Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets in seven games in the second round.
Lillard and the Trail Blazers were thoroughly outplayed by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, however. The Warriors swept the Trail Blazers in four games, and Lillard converted just 37.1 percent of his field-goal attempts for the series, while Curry shot 46.9 percent from the field.
The Bucks and Boston Celtics stand out as the two most talented teams in the Eastern Conference right now after the former traded for Lillard and the latter for Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis in the offseason. An Eastern Conference Finals matchup between these two teams in the spring would make for a thrilling seven-game series.