Shockwaves were sent throughout the league this morning when it was reported that longtime Trail Blazers All-NBA point guard Damian Lillard had requested a trade.
During an appearance on NBA Today, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter video link) spoke with host Malika Andrews about the curious timing of the deal.
“His conversations with the organization, at least going back several days [to] that last Monday meeting in Portland, the expectation was he was going to give the organization a chance to get through free agency, and see how they could improve the team,” Woj said. “And on the opening night of free agency, they committed in Portland $160MM to Jerami Grant to return to the Blazers, certainly with Damian Lillard in mind. And now, less than 24 hours later, Lillard has asked for a trade.”
Sources tell Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report that Lillard’s agent Aaron Goodwin informed Joe Cronin of his client’s decision on Saturday morning.
Haynes is one of many reporters hearing that Lillard hopes to be dealt to Miami. Heat All-NBA swingman Jimmy Butler, fresh off leading the team to its second Finals appearance in four seasons, has told Miami personnel that Lillard is his No. 1 target for the club’s offseason, Haynes adds.
Miami is prepared to make an offer centered around young shooting guard Tyler Herro, according to Haynes, who says sharpshooter Duncan Robinson and draft picks could be used to build out the package. The team is hoping to avoid including affordable forward Caleb Martin in trade talks, per Haynes and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (via Twitter).
The Trail Blazers, for their part, may angle to unload the contract of veteran center Jusuf Nurkic in a deal.
“If you want to go into a full rebuild, Brooklyn has the better assets going forward,” a front office executive told Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports. “But Portland is pretty clear that they are not looking to be terrible next year. They will be young but they want to stay competitive. Dealing with Miami gets you there.”
Surrounding third overall lottery pick Scoot Henderson with a play-making scorer at the level of Herro and perhaps a marksman with the pedigree of Robinson could help the Trail Blazers at least remain somewhat competitive next season.
However, there have been rumblings that Portland may be “lukewarm” on Herro, so it’s possible a third team would have to get involved, as Jackson writes for The Miami Herald in an exploration of possible trade scenarios. Haynes (Twitter link) has indeed heard that any Lillard trade between the Blazers and Heat would probably have to include a third team, though he doesn’t specify whether that’s related to Portland’s feelings about Herro.
The Sixers are another club that hopes to get into the running for Lillard. However, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) is hearing that young combo guard Tyrese Maxey, who is still on his rookie scale contract, is currently off the table in any trade talks, even for Lillard. Fischer reiterates that rival teams, including Philadelphia, are convinced Lillard hopes to be moved to the Heat specifically.
Finally, Wojnarowski provides an important update on another key veteran whose future is affected by Lillard’s trade request, tweeting that today’s news won’t change Portland’s plans to re-sign Grant to the five-year, $160MM contract he and the team agreed to on Friday night.
That deal can’t be made official until July 6, so either side could back out of their verbal agreement before then. However, it would be a bad look for a club to rescind such a significant offer, and Grant seems unlikely to do anywhere near that well elsewhere on the free agent market.
Luke Adams contributed to this story.