In day two of NBA Free Agency, with seemingly millions of NBA fans struggling to refresh a glitchy Twitter, Chris B. Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT dropped some blockbuster news on us:
Damian Lillard, a seven-time All-Star, the greatest Blazer in history, is finally requesting a trade from Portland. Apparently he wasn’t persuaded that the five years, $160 million extension teammate Jerami Grant signed Friday was going to be enough to propel them to contention.
With Twitter going haywire, I’ll try to put these updates that came in mostly chronologically.
Haynes warned us all back in early June that if the Blazers do not trade their No. 3 overall pick, that Dame might finally ask out.
Well, the NBA Draft came and went with Scoot Henderson’s name being called. Portland didn’t trade him for veteran help. They apparently weren’t even interested in names like Paul George.
Lillard recently said that “obviously Miami” would be atop his list. He also named the Brooklyn Nets as another destination. He said he was naming those teams because he wanted to play with Bam Adebayo or Mikal Bridges. Haynes last month added the Philadelphia 76ers to the list as an outside possibility, but reminded us they don’t have the assets to get it done.
And today we got the big news. Next, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, let us know that Philadelphia is not a team on Dame’s list.
The Philadelphia 76ers are not a preferred destination for Damian Lillard, sources tell Yahoo Sports. Miami and Brooklyn are the only teams on his list— Vincent Goodwill (@VinceGoodwill) July 1, 2023
Shams Charania and David Aldridge of The Athletic each reported the Heat are specifically his target.
The Portland Trail Blazers have been informed that Damian Lillard wants a trade specifically to the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat, multiple sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. https://t.co/CE2lJVcuod— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 1, 2023
Damian Lillard's focus is solely on the Miami Heat, per source. No other suitors at the moment.— David Aldridge (@davidaldridgedc) July 1, 2023
“The Miami Heat are his preferred destination, sources say....
The Heat are prepared to offer a package centered around Tyler Herro, with possibly Duncan Robinson and picks, sources say. The Heat would prefer to keep Caleb Martin out of any trade scenarios.”
Then ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski says the Sixers, (!!!) Clippers, and Heat will have interest in exploring a trade.
The Heat, Clippers and 76ers are three teams that will have interest in exploring trades for Lillard, sources tell ESPN. The Blazers are expected to value deals that would bring them back young players and draft assets. https://t.co/5KM6EF4RRT— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2023
So Dame wants Miami, and mayyybe Brooklyn. But it’s the Heat, Clips, and Sixers, not Nets, that are listed as suitors.
We looked at a possible Sixers’ all in trade offer for Dame not long ago.
A possible #Sixers all in trade offer for Dame might include: Maxey, Harris, Melton, Springer, pick swaps in '24, '26, '28, PHI's own '29 1st. And up to 6 2nd rounders.— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) June 9, 2023
That and all the latest trade rumors about Damian Lillard.https://t.co/hkZP73dm4G
The Miami smoke has only picked up as the team did not meet Washington’s final demands for Bradley Beal, with their sights set on Dame. Miami reportedly made a significant offer for Beal, but they were apparently rebuffed by the Wizards, who preferred to work with the Phoenix Suns.
The Heat have names like Tyler Herro, an enticing young prospect on a long-term deal (one that now looks a lot better than it did two days ago) along with Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson as potential salary matching vets to include. Pat Riley also possesses a pair of future first-round picks, plus two recent, young first-round selections in Nikola Jović and Jaime Jaquez Jr. Caleb Martin is also a name often tossed into these mock Heat-Blazers trades for Dame.
Giving a modicum of hope on an otherwise dreary Sixers news week, Haynes recently ventured that “[Dame] doesn’t want to be on a team where it’s just three All-Stars or three superstars… He just wants a team that has a shot.”
(So... why is Miami on his list then? Does he think he’s being traded for Jimmy Butler?)
The Brooklyn Nets have far more picks to offer (remember they have those future Suns picks from the Kevin Durant trade), and salary cap filler names like Spencer Dinwiddie. They have valuable role players like Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neal, although if they were looking to appease Dame, you’d think they’d want to hang onto those guys. But again, nobody is naming them as a suitor.
If the Blazers simply wanted to accommodate Dame, and he was set on Miami, that would really spell trouble for Joel Embiid and the Sixers.
But if Lillard at least granted Portland a few teams to haggle with, and Brooklyn was interested, then the Nets would have the edge over the Heat in terms of draft capital.
As for Woj’s update that the 76ers are interested, that would likely mean including Tyrese Maxey.
On Friday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst hopped on NBA Today and said the news the Sixers are not planning to extend Maxey this summer may not just be about future salary cap flexibility; it might be because they’re planning on trading Maxey in a larger deal for Lillard.
“The Sixers are not going to extend Tyrese Maxey this summer. Want to know why? Because they might trade him.”— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) June 30, 2023
- Brian Windhorst pic.twitter.com/qElb4WRtjh
Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice was the first to let us know the Sixers hoped to put off Maxey’s extension until next summer. Ramona Shelburne reported the same thing.
Per Neubeck, writing after the Lillard updates on Saturday afternoon:
“The Sixers, sources say, are operating under that same “Lillard wants Miami” belief that everyone else is working under.... Maxey has not been made available in trade talks, according to multiple sources.”
Neubeck acknowledges that perhaps that could change depending on how Portland handles these negotiations, and that it makes little sense for Daryl Morey to offer Maxey, still regarded as a franchise cornerstone, for such an unlikely chance of landing Dame anyway.
In light of deals like Desmond Bane’s $207M deal with the Grizzlies, you wonder how Maxey and his agent Rich Paul feels about that plan and these updates. The Sixers and Maxey have had nothing but goodwill. But here’s one way to potentially throw a wrench into that.
Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, post Dame bomb, post Woj Sixers bomb, (but who knows if these insiders were even aware of each other’s tweets) dropped this on us:
Have heard pretty consistently that the Sixers have no interest in putting Tyrese Maxey in any trade conversations, including a potential pursuit for Damian Lillard. Philadelphia, and other teams, are of the belief the Miami Heat are Lillard's preferred destination.— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) July 1, 2023
There’s also still the big story of James Harden recently requesting a trade.
The Los Angeles Clippers appear to be his preferred destination. So now while haggling over a possible Harden deal, both teams have their eyes set on Dame?
Windy speculated the Sixers could potentially seek draft assets from the Clippers (they have two future firsts) hoping to reroute those to Portland. But that doesn’t seem quite as likely if they’re just not on his list, and it seems doubly unlikely if the Clippers have the same idea now. Dame does not have a no trade clause, so Portland could send him to whoever had the best offer. If they really loved Maxey, or Herro, for example, then that might be what matters most to them. Who knows, maybe the New York Knicks would drop off the turnbuckle to make a big bid too.
But it seems unlikely the Blazers wouldn’t want to “do right by” their long-time franchise star.
It might still be premature to breathe a sigh of relief if you dreaded the idea of Maxey being traded. But with news Lillard isn’t interested in coming here, you can probably get away with one. You’re certainly free to begin your panic that Dame might follow Kevin Durant’s footsteps, forming a super team over Fourth of July Weekend, by joining a perennial contender who literally just lost in the NBA Finals.
Sigh. The new CBA was supposed to prevent super teams. Don’t tell that to Pat Riley.