Months after his trade request, Damian Lillard remains a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, and has not budged on his stance that he only wants to be traded to the Miami Heat. The two clubs have not yet been able to agree on a deal, however, and with training camps set to open in a few weeks, that leaves everyone asking two big questions.
1. Will the Blazers and Heat feel the pressure of the upcoming season and eventually settle on a deal?
2. What happens if there’s no trade altogether, or another team decides to go all in and agrees to a Lillard swap with the Blazers?
According to Shams Charania, who spoke to “The Rally” on Monday afternoon, the two sides will soon re-start negotiations, and, most notably, Lillard will only report to training camp with the Blazers or the Heat.
“I expect Portland and Miami to re-engage before the start of training camps in the next two-and-a-half weeks. At this point, I’m told, the only two training camps that Damian Lillard would report to, in theory, are Portland and Miami. If a team like Toronto, for instance, were to trade for a Damian Lillard, I do not believe Lillard would even report. I believe that standing trade request would still be there if he were to be traded to a team like Toronto, or anyone else who wants to take a chance at this situation.
“Teams around the league, ever since this trade request in early July, they’ve understood that a guy like Damian Lillard, at the age of 33, with $216 million left on his deal in the next four seasons. Him joining their program and wanting a trade immediately is incredibly un-ideal,
“You look at this situation, the one thing you keep coming back to is, Miami and Portland, are they able to get a deal done or not? The league has really been on pause since early July with a lot of the major moves. Everyone’s been waiting on this.”
First of all, it’s notable that Charania uses the Raptors as an example multiple times. We know that Raptors president Masai Ujiri is not afraid to make bold moves, and the Raptors are also looking to move in a new direction after an eventful offseason that saw both Nick Nurse and Fred VanVleet depart. They also have some intriguing young players and plenty of draft picks at their disposal; the recipe is there if they want to make a swing. Whether the Raptors have had any meaningful conversations with the Blazers is unclear, but Charania’s report hints at some interest there.
In any case, his report that Lillard would not report to training camp outside of Portland or Miami raises some eyebrows. Lillard has four years and $216 million left on his contract, and has made his name on his commitment to hard work and a dedication to getting better. It remains extremely hard to believe that Lillard would sit out if he was traded to another club and not only forego the money but miss out on playing meaningful basketball. This feels like a negotiating tactic from Lillard’s camp more than a potential reality.