Damian Lillard wants to play for the Miami Heat next season.
I believe we’re all well aware of that fact. From the moment he requested a trade, the Miami Heat were one of the rumored destinations, and news quickly popped up that he only wanted to go to Miami.
Like, ONLY Miami.
Like, LITERALLY ONLY THE MIAMI HEAT.
If Damian Lillard lands with a team other than the Miami Heat, he won’t report to training camp, per @MarkG_Medina
“‘He just wouldn’t go,’ a person familiar with Lillard’s thinking told Sportsnaut. ‘He just wouldn’t report.’… ‘I don’t think the other team would trade for him… pic.twitter.com/ETxLoXRUMH
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) July 7, 2023
Lillard has put he and the Blazers in a really interesting position, because he’s not a free agent, which means he doesn’t necessarily have the freedom to choose where he wants to go. However, Lillard is arguably one of the greatest players in franchise history, and not doing right by him could possibly set off a shockwave of players refusing to stick with their original franchises unless their trade wishes are granted. However, it’s very clear that Lillard only wants to play for the Heat. From the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson:
“I do what I should for my client,” Goodwin told the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson. “Some teams I did call. Other teams have called me. It’s a respectful relationship with most teams. Truthfully, he wants to play in Miami. Period.”
From the Portland perspective, it’s clear to see why they haven’t traded Lillard to Miami yet. The Heat don’t really have many assets to trade for Lillard, when you compare their offers to other franchises that could be in on him. The Heat’s best offer for Lillard could be centered around first round picks in 2028 and 2030, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Nikola Jovic, as well as salary considerations. There’s also the contract of Tyler Herro, who according to reports might not be a player the Blazers want. There’s been multiple scenarios where multiple teams get involved in this trade to help Miami stay neatly under the cap, but it really just comes down to if and when Portland makes the trade.
Lillard’s agent Aaron Goodwin has been telling teams not to try for Lillard because he wants to be in Miami, and at this point it feels like Lillard has been doing everything he can to get in a Heat jersey next season. Per Woj:
As Cronin explores the broader landscape, Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, has been calling prospective trade partners and warning against trading for his client, team executives told ESPN. Goodwin is telling organizations outside of Miami that trading for Lillard is trading for an unhappy player. As interference goes, this is a time-honored agent maneuver to depress offers and clear a path to a predetermined destination.
Now, it’s just about if the Blazers can get the correct compensation for a player of Lillard’s caliber, but that seems to be the hard part.
Lillard is under contract for the next three years, and then has a player option at $63 million for the 2026-2027 season. He would be subject to fines if he wants to sit out. If Lillard fully wanted to choose to his next team, he should have negotiated a no-trade clause like Bradley Beal did.
Either way it goes, this trade could set a new precedent for players who ultimately want out from their franchises.