Damian Lillard’s decision to finally request a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers sent shockwaves throughout the NBA this week.
Although it is widely accepted that the Miami Heat are his preferred destination, several other teams are notably throwing their hats into the mix.
Portland, after all, does still need to get a proper return for Lillard. And in order for Miami to get him, a third team needs to be roped into the equation no matter what.
According to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, “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.”
Over the past 24 hours, a dark horse suitor for Lillard’s services has emerged.
As noted by Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Philadelphia 76ers are a team to watch in this process. Although Lillard has expressed little interest in joining Joel Embiid and Co., Philly can put together the best package out of anyone.
First they can flip James Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers for additional trade assets, then they can throw in a future first round pick, a pick swap, Tyrese Maxey and an assortment of expiring salaries.
Yes, Lillard prefers Miami to Philadelphia – but fluidity is the name of the game in times like this. Unless you have a no-trade clause that you are prepared to wield like a sword, you don’t always land exactly where you want.
And Lillard could do a lot worse than a championship contender like the 76ers.
Bronny’s date night photos with his new girl. https://t.co/TJt92I0e7U
— Game 7 (@game7__) July 2, 2023
The Clippers are also a team to keep an eye on. Obviously they have been heavily linked to Harden in recent days, so much so that even Kawhi Leonard has weighed in on the move, but Lillard is an objectively better player.
That said, the Clippers’ proposed trade packages, even if they include Terrence Mann, aren’t better than what Miami or Philly can bring to the table.
In the NBA, stars usually get what they want – and Lillard wants to end up in Miami. But if that opportunity doesn’t ultimately materialize, it wouldn’t be all that shocking to see him land in Philadelphia when it’s all said and done.