Damian Lillard’s decision to finally request a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers this week will have a significant impact on the NBA going forward.
Lillard is widely regarded as one of the 75 greatest players in league history and someone who can single-handedly take a team on the precipice of contending for a title over the top.
In recent weeks he has made it clear that his preference is to play for the Miami Heat if he ends up getting traded.
Lillard has a strong bond with Bam Adebayo and the prospect of playing alongside Jimmy Butler appeals to him.
But how does Portland feel about that potential move?
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Blazers aren’t prioritizing giving Lillard what he wants. Their goal is receiving maximum the return for their superstar.
“But in the early stages of this latest superstar saga, there are strong indications that Cronin won’t settle on a Heat deal if he doesn’t truly believe it’s what’s best for the franchise,” he wrote.
This aligns with something ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski wrote in recent days as well.
“Front offices talking to Portland today were left with impression that GM Joe Cronin is pursuing a star-level return package for Damian Lillard – and that Cronin plans to look well beyond the Miami Heat to find one,” he noted.
If Portland does look beyond Miami, a dark horse suitor for Lillard’s services has emerged in recent days.
How seriously the Blazers entertain the prospect remains to be seen.
Bronny’s date night photos with his new girl. https://t.co/TJt92I0e7U
— Game 7 (@game7__) July 2, 2023
Lillard has put his cards on the table: he wants to play for the Heat. Not the Philadelphia 76ers. Not the Los Angeles Clippers. Not the San Antonio Spurs.
But whether Cronin and Co. will listen to him is an open question.
Where will Lillard ultimately be playing come the beginning of next season? Time will tell.