NBA Rumors: Heat, Damian Lillard may be in trouble with mutual trade pursuit

Damian Lillard (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

The Portland Trail Blazers will honor Damian Lillard’s trade request, but they might not send him to his preferred destination. 

Damian Lillard has made it very clear where he wants to play basketball next season. The Miami Heat, fresh off winning the Eastern Conference, are Lillard’s preferred destination. He wants to play with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. He wants to experience #HeatCulture for himself. Erik Spoelstra. Pat Riley. South Beach.

Unfortunately for Lillard, he’s not the one delegating the terms of his impending trade. The Portland Trail Blazers have free rein to send Lillard wherever they so please — and Lillard, with four years left on his contract at 32 years old, has very little leverage.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Blazers are “open for business” around the league and feel no obligation to send Lillard to Miami. If the Heat can’t supply the best offer for Lillard’s services, he will end up somewhere else.

Blazers feel no obligation to trade Damian Lillard to the Heat

Before Lillard officially levied his trade request, there was a lot of speculation about Portland working with Lillard to send him to his preferred spot. Lillard has spent his entire 11-year career with the Blazers, showing uncommon loyalty for a superstar of his caliber. Very few players have been more entwined with a franchise and a community.

Now the breakup is official and things could get messy. The Blazers have to make the best move for their future. Scoot Henderson, Anfernee Simons, and Shaedon Sharpe form the foundation of a prosperous rebuild, but Portland can’t get complacent and accept anything less than top value for Dame.

Meanwhile, the Heat don’t have much of anything to offer. Two future picks (2028, 2030), Tyler Herro, salary filler, and a mediocre package of “young assets” like Nikola Jovic and Jaime Jaquez Jr. is about all Miami can manage without sacrificing the Jimmy Butler-Bam Adebayo core. Simply put, most teams around the league can beat that offer.

The Heat definitely want Lillard — he would immediately elevate them to favorites in the East after last season’s improbable Finals run. His offensive fit is obvious and Erik Spoelstra always gets the most out of his players. There’s no better franchise to age past your prime with either, potentially the root of Lillard’s interest.

Ultimately, however, Lillard’s wishes are of secondary importance to Blazers GM Joe Cronin and the Portland franchise. There’s too much at stake to grant Lillard’s request if there are better options on the market. And there will be. Lillard is coming off the best individual season of his career. The market should be quite robust.

Next. 5 players Blazers could acquire in Lillard trade to stay competitive. dark