One of the stories of this summer in the NBA has been Damian Lillard’s announcement on Saturday that he wants a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers. But there’s still little clarity about where he might end up, despite plenty of rumors flying around.
Lillard is one of the game’s greats, having received seven NBA All-Star and seven All-NBA Team selections as well as being named in the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. He has been with the Trail Blazers his whole career after being sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, winning Rookie of the Year in his first season.
However, he now seems ready to test the waters elsewhere at the age of 32, having made a successful comeback from an injury-plagued 2021-22 season. Lillard became just the fifth player in NBA history to score 60 points at least four times in the regular season, along with legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and James Harden.
Successful comeback season
That, along with a career-high points per game tally of 32.2 earned him a return to the NBA All-Star ranking after missing out the previous year. However, after weeks of rumors that he was looking for a fresh start, he finally announced at the weekend that he was requesting a trade.
The Trail Blazers’ inability so far to make use of free agency to improve their roster seems to be behind his decision, particularly after two seasons where they missed out on the play-offs, having previously made it every year since his rookie season.
“We have been clear that we want Dame here but he notified us today he wants out and he’d prefer to play someplace else,” Portland general manager Joe Cronin said. “What has not changed for us is that we’re committed to winning, and we are going to do what’s best for the team in pursuit of that goal.”
So where will Lillard end up? At the moment it’s unclear, with early rumors claiming that he favored Miami Heat, while LA Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers were also linked with a trade. The Trail Blazers have made it clear that they would prioritize a deal that would bring in young players and potential draft assets.
For the Miami Heat, a trade for Lillard makes sense because they struggled to score points in the NBA Finals, losing to Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. Despite his age, Lillard’s form last season shows that he could bring in that level of performance to make the difference next time out.
Unfortunately for Miami, there are also claims that they lack the kind of attractive trade package to convince Portland to make the deal. So far the talk coming from Portland has been that they haven’t been impressed with Miami’s offer and are taking their time to find a better offer elsewhere, leaving Lillard in limbo for now.
Whether this means he will end up staying with the Trail Blazers or accepting a move somewhere other than Miami remains to be seen.
Written and distributed by Chat T Sports.