And just like that, seven-time NBA All-Star Damian Lillard has demanded a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers, the end of an 11-year run that saw him rack up 19,376 career points — 25.2 PPG. The soon-to-be 33-year-old wants out, desperate to play for a contender at the peak of his prime.
His preferred destination? The Miami Heat, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski adds that the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers will have interest in deals for Lillard, with the Blazers “expected to value deals that would bring them back young players and draft assets.”
Lillard has made it clear he wants to be in Miami, publicly announcing the Heat as a preferred destination in recent weeks. He has specifically singled out former Wildcat Bam Adebayo as a player he’d like to team up with, along with having a close relationship with fellow star Jimmy Butler.
“Miami is the obvious one,” Lillard told Showtime. “And Bam is my dawg, for real. Miami is an obvious one.”
What could the return be for Portland, assuming Miami is an ideal trade partner? It all starts with Tyler Herro, who is entering the first year of a four-year, $130 million extension with the Heat. The Trail Blazers are reportedly “lukewarm” on the former Wildcat, but assets are fairly hard to come by in South Beach. They have first-round picks in 2028 and 2030, along with pick swaps in 2027 and 2029 — that’s the bulk of a potential package. From there, it comes down to Herro, Kyle Lowry’s expiring contract, Duncan Robinson, Nikola Jovic and/or Jaime Jaquez.
When it comes to talent and salary matching — Lillard is set to make $45.6 million in 2023-24 — Herro’s $27 million is basically a necessity. Whether he’s moved to a third team (Portland already has guards Scoot Henderson, Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simons on the roster) or added to the mix, he’d almost certainly have to be included one way or another.
If not The Bucket himself, could another former Wildcat be moved in a blockbuster trade for the seven-time All-NBA member? Maybe Philadelphia dangles Tyrese Maxey in a deal? After all, the 76ers have decided they won’t be signing the standout guard to a long-term extension — not yet, at least.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne broke that news on Friday ahead of the start of free agency.
“He is still seen as a big part of their future, but the team wants to delay an extension for him to preserve flexibility,” she wrote.
Could it be because the 76ers are angling for a trade? ESPN’s Brian Windhorst thinks it’s at least being considered.
Yahoo’s Jake Fischer will have to see it to believe it — the senior NBA reporter believes the Sixers “have no interest” in putting Maxey in the middle of “any” trade talks, including for Lillard. Because the franchise knows a trade to Miami is inevitable? Potentially.
Either way, it appears a former Wildcat could be on the move sooner rather than later.