With just about a month remaining until NBA training camps begin, the prevailing unsettled matter is the future of Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard, who issued a trade request in July, according to Blazers general manager Joe Cronin. As it became clear that a trade to Lillard’s preferred destination, the Miami Heat, wasn’t going to happen any time soon, Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, made public comments suggesting that he had warned teams that his client only wanted to play in Miami.
That led to the NBA issuing a memo to all 30 teams threatening discipline if either Lillard or Goodwin contacted teams privately or publicly to suggest that Lillard would not “fully perform the services called for under his player contract in the event of a trade.” The trade chatter died down a bit after that, but on Thursday we finally heard from Lillard himself about the status of his demand.
Well, sort of.
For the first time, Lillard publicly confirmed that he did, in fact, request a trade to Miami, in a conversation with Andscape’s Marc J. Spears. Outside of that, however, Lillard declined to offer details about his future or his current situation.
“I’m not going to speak on the Blazers,” Lillard said. “It’s lot of love and respect, but I won’t speak on the Blazers. … I can say that there was [a trade request to the Heat], and I would just prefer not to speak on the Trail Blazers.”
— Brady Hawk (@BradyHawk305) August 24, 2023
Lillard has spent his entire 11-year career with the Blazers, earning seven All-Star appearances, seven All-NBA selections and a spot on the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. He’s also coming off arguably his best season, in which he averaged a career-high 32.2 points along with 7.3 assists, while shooting 37% on over 11 3-pointers per game.
Adding a point guard of Lillard’s caliber to a Miami Heat team coming off its second NBA Finals appearance in four years would send shockwaves through both the Eastern Conference and the NBA at large. However, Cronin has remained steadfast in his desire to find a deal that delivers premium assets for Portland, even if it comes from another team.
“If you look at the history of me speaking about loyalty, I’ve always said that I’m loyal to who I am and I’m going to do what I feel like is the right thing to do,” Lillard told Andscape. “For me, I know what I want for myself and I’m going to be loyal to that. When I feel like this is the vision I have for myself, this is what I see being fit for me at this moment, I’m going to ride that until the wheels fall off but anything that I’m a part of, it all has to be connected.”