Portland Trail Blazers training camp is fast approaching with All-Star point guard Damian Lillard abiding by his trade request from July. As players make their final preparations before camp, trade talks involving Lillard are expected to ramp up.
The Trail Blazers immediately began evaluating the trade market for Lillard after he requested to be moved on July 1. While multiple teams expressed interest in the perennial All-Star, the Miami Heat stood out as the overwhelming favorite to acquire him.
- Damian Lillard contract: $45.64 million salary (2023-’24), $48.787 million salary (2024-’25), $58.545 million salary (2025-’26), $63.2 million player option (2026)
Portland has made it clear that it wants to make the move that is in the organization’s best interest, even if that means trading Lillard to a team he is opposed to playing for. With the number of suitors dwindling down, in large part due to Lillard’s specific request, it appears training camp could accelerate things.
During an appearance on NBA Today, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski shared his belief that Portland is beginning to talk to more interested teams with training camp approaching. The dead period of the NBA offseason is now over, with general managers now shifting their focus to figuring out their roster heading into training camp.
“My sense is that the Blazers have done a lot more talking with teams in the last say, 10-14 days than they did probably in at least a month-plus prior. A big part of that is the league is back to work now after Labor Day and training camp is starting to approach, and that’s the next real deadline in this process.”
Adrian Wojnarowski on Damian Lillard trade talks ramping up
It should come as no surprise that trade talks are slowly ramping up. In the weeks following Lillard’s trade demand, Portland started figuring out its options then shut things down for some downtime when the rest of the league was quiet.
- Damian Lillard stats (2022-’23): 32.2 PPG, 7.3 APG, 4.8 RPG 46.3% FG, .205 WS/48
For the time being, the 33-year-old point guard has made it clear he’ll be in attendance for training camp and won’t cause any significant distractions. However, Portland’s asking price and its approach to negotiations could change things.
Latest on Portland Trail Blazers’ asking price for Damian Lillard trade
NBA insiders reported in early August that NBA teams weren’t meeting Portland’s asking price. Not only that, many general managers had backed off and offered less in return for Lillard due to his insistence that he’ll only play for Miami.
Even with leverage in their favor, the Heat have reportedly made the strongest offer for Lillard. Miami’s insistence on acquiring a third star to pair with Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler has influenced their offer to Portland.
During his appearance on NBA Today, Wojnarowski added some perspective on how the Trail Blazers are approaching negotiations. Specifically, he detailed the type of return general manager Joe Cronin is looking for.
“I think Portland, what they’ve been trying to do is see how they can put together multi-team deals that would get them the assets that they would want. Draft picks, young players, there might be a team that their best asset is a veteran player that doesn’t interest the Blazers, but there’s a third team who might want to take on that veteran and then send, whether it’s a young player or picks in part to Portland. So I think they’ve been in communication with a lot of teams, trying to find a structure of a deal that can get them a Damian Lillard trade. We’ll see now how much traction they can get between now and the start of camp.”
Adrian Wojnarowski on Portland Trail Blazers’ approach to trade talks
If a three-team deal is now what Portland is targeting, it suggests a higher likelihood that Lillard winds up in Miami. In that scenario, Tyler Herro would be sent to a third team, with that club providing the Trail Blazers with future draft picks and young talent.
Barring accelerated trade talks and Portland lowering its asking price, Lillard will likely be the Trail Blazers’ starting point guard when the regular season begins. However, he’ll likely be traded later this season.