Rumblings picked up on Thursday night that a Damian Lillard trade, long rumored to be in play before the 2023-24 NBA season tips off, is on its proverbial final stretch to be completed. Lillard has been connected to the Miami Heat and is reported to want to only play for the Heat, but does not have a no-trade clause and therefore has limited say in his destination.
According to Gerald Bourguet of PHNX, there are four teams thought to be pushing their chips in for a deal, with one believed to be a dark horse to push a blockbuster through.
Five teams reported to be closing in on 'blockbuster' deals
Bourguet reports the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, and Chicago Bulls are all involved in trade talks centered on "blockbuster" returns. Those teams view the Phoenix Suns, "as a team that could push a potential blockbuster deal across the finish line."
Bourguet reports that a sources referred to the Suns as a dark horse and mystery team because they are a likely involved team to help facilitate another team receiving James Harden or Damian Lillard. The Suns are not viewed as a team that could acquire either star due to a lack of assets. It's also not clear which of the four other teams are engaged on Lillard and which are engaged on Harden, or if there are other teams also involved.
It appears Deandre Ayton is a likely piece to move in a possible deal.
"Outside Phoenix, Ayton is viewed as an enticing piece who could help facilitate a Lillard trade. Sources in Portland confirmed that Ayton’s name has come up multiple times over the last few weeks, and PHNX Sports reported last year that the Blazers had interest in the Suns big man. DA only turned 25 years old over the summer, and Portland believes he’d be sellable to the fanbase as a young, former first overall pick with room to grow in the right change of scenery."
With NBA training camps starting up soon ahead of the regular season's late-October tip-off, teams are trying to put the finishing touches on their roster. What a final touch Harden or Lillard would be.