The Portland Trail Blazers’ decision to draft Scoot Henderson with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft seemed to signal the end of their relationship with Damian Lillard.
Heading into the proceedings, Lillard and his representatives offered a clear ultimatum: use the draft capital to improve the roster or the franchise player would walk.
Portland took Henderson anyway. Lillard subsequently requested a trade shortly thereafter.
From the jump, Lillard and his reps have made it clear that the only team he will consider going to is the Miami Heat. The reasoning for that demand is a matter of public record.
Unfortunately, a roadblock quickly emerged.
Now, nearly two months since Lillard’s trade request was made, he remains a Blazer.
This week, a new report from Miami sports insider Barry Jackson surfaced shining a light on how the front office feels about the Heat as a potential Lillard trade partner.
“Meanwhile, as of early this week, Portland was still showing no interest in doing a deal with Heat, who visit Blazers in late Feb. in what is reportedly Portland’s only national TV game,” Jackson wrote.
“To me, Lillard has much of leverage based on how messy he’s willing to make this.”
Lillard’s reps at one point seemingly tried to play hardball with other potential suitors and tell them that he would only accept a trade to the Heat.
That prompted intervention from the NBA. League officials essentially told Lillard’s representatives that their threats were unacceptable.
In response, Lillard’s team assured the league that he would ultimately play for whoever acquired him – regardless of whether it was Miami or not.
In the weeks since, a new dark horse suitor surfaced for Lillard’s services. Time will tell if anything real materializes, though.
The Heat clearly still want Lillard.
Kay Adams 👀👀https://t.co/uOKlkuSYBB
— Game 7 (@game7__) August 18, 2023
And Lillard obviously still wants to go to Miami.
But Portland has all the leverage at the moment.
Will the Blazers, Heat and Lillard find an arrangement that can make everyone happy? One way or another, an answer will emerge in the coming weeks and months.