Damian Lillard requests trade to Heat, but 3 other suitors loom in bidding war

Damian Lillard requests trade to Heat, but 3 other suitors loom in bidding war

Damian Lillard has told the Portland Trail Blazers he wants to be traded, according to multiple reports. The team is expected to accommodate Lillard in his trade request, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Lillard has specifically asked to be traded to the Miami Heat, according to NBA insider Shams Charania.

The Brooklyn Nets were mentioned as Lillard’s other “preferred destination,” according to Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes. The Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers have also expressed interested in Lillard, according to Woj.

Lillard’s trade request comes weeks after the Trail Blazers selected point guard Scoot Henderson with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Lillard told the media he didn’t want to play with teenagers during end-of-season exit interviews. While Lillard wanted Portland to trade its draft pick for a veteran star, Portland reportedly rebuffed all offers.

Lillard has four years, $216 million remaining on his contract. He turns 33 years old before next season. He’s coming off one of the most prolific seasons of his career, averaging 32.2 points and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 37.1 percent from deep on a sky-high volume of attempts (more than 11 per game). He remains one of the league’s best guards, and one of its preeminent pull-up shooters.

The Blazers made the playoffs in eight straight years at the start of Lillard’s career after selecting him with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Portland has been one of the league’s worst teams the last two seasons while using their lottery pick to select teenagers in Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe. The Lillard era peaked in Portland during the 2018-19 season, when the Blazers reached the Western Conference Finals but were then swept by the Warriors.

There should be a robust trade market for Lillard with several teams interested. Any package with Miami is expected to revolve around Tyler Herro, rookie Jaime Jaquez, and multiple first round picks. Portland brass will have to weigh giving Lillard his desired location in Miami vs. trying to get the best overall deal for him elsewhere. Lillard said on a podcast earlier this offseason he’d love to play with Bam Adebayo in Miami. The Heat are coming off a run to the NBA Finals.

Lillard’s trade request comes one day after the Blazers agreed to a five-year, $160 million deal with Jerami Grant. The contract can’t be officially signed until July 6 at midnight. Will Portland now try to back out of that deal as they presumably enter full-on rebuild mode after dealing Lillard?

What will a trade package for Lillard look like?

The Blazers could be incentivized to try to get rid of veteran center Jusuf Nurkic in any Lillard trade. Nurkic has three years, $52.5 million remaining on his contract.

Miami can reportedly only offer first round draft picks in 2028 and 2030 for Lillard, because the team already owes a pick to the Thunder. The Heat could also offer Kyle Lowry’s expiring contract in a package for both players. This is what a potential deal with Miami could look like:

Will that be the best offer for Lillard? Probably not, especially if there’s a real bidding war.

The big question in the Lillard sweepstakes will be how interested the Nets are. Brooklyn just got out of the superteam game by trading away Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden over the last 1.5 seasons. The Nets are now stocked with picks from the Suns, Mavericks, and Sixers, but they don’t own any of their own picks, which were traded to Houston in the Harden deal. Brooklyn could be content slow-building around Mikal Bridges, or they could push their chips in again for Lillard.

Brooklyn could potentially offer the Phoenix Suns’ 2024 pick, the Philadelphia 76ers 2027 pick (top-8 protected), and the Mavericks’ unprotected 2029 pick.

Trail Blazers seeking best deal for Lillard

Lillard wants to land in Miami, but the Trail Blazers will reportedly only send him there if the Heat come up with the best package. The Blazers are open for business around the league, per Woj.

We’ll update this story as it develops.

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