Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin will try to accommodate the trade request Damian Lillard made earlier today, but he will also operate in the best interests of his own team, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Rival front offices believe Cronin is looking for a “star-level” return and he’s willing to consider other teams besides Miami, which is Lillard’s preferred destination.
Cronin confirmed that sentiment in a statement he issued after the Lillard news was made public, saying, “We have been clear that we want Dame here, but he notified us today he wants out and he’d prefer to play someplace else. What has not changed for us is that we’re committed to winning, and we are going to do what’s best for the team in pursuit of that goal.” (Twitter link)
Tyler Herro, who has four years and $120MM left on his contract, is considered a vital part of any Heat deal for salary matching purposes. However, sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) that Cronin doesn’t view Herro as a good fit with his roster and would try to find a third team to take him if Lillard is traded to Miami. The Nets have been considered as a team that might take on Herro’s contract, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link).
There’s also a sense that the Blazers won’t rush into a deal and will take their time to make sure they get the best return for Lillard, tweets Mark Medina of Sportsnaut.
Many teams are interested in acquiring Lillard, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, who names the Sixers, Clippers and Jazz among them. Amick reiterates that a third team would likely have to get involved for a trade with Miami to work.
Amick also examines what led to Lillard’s trade request, saying he was ready to ask for a deal when he and his agent met with Cronin on Monday. Cronin was able to talk Lillard into waiting to see what the team was able to do in free agency, but when no major additions took place Friday night, Lillard called coach Chauncey Billups and decided it was time to move on.
Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer also has doubts that Lillard will end up in Miami, stating that the Heat’s potential best offer would be “one of the worst trades in NBA history.” He believes Miami would be willing to accept Jusuf Nurkic‘s contract along with Lillard, while sending back Herro, Kyle Lowry, Jaime Jaquez, Nikola Jovic, first-round picks in 2028 and 2030 and a pick swap in 2029. O’Connor points out that the deal wouldn’t give Portland a collection of valuable picks or young talent to build around.
O’Connor lists eight teams that he believes should be aggressively pursuing Lillard, starting with the Sixers. Philadelphia has indicated that it’s not willing to part with Tyrese Maxey, but if that changes, O’Connor views Maxey, two future first-rounders, a pick swap and expiring contracts as better than what Miami can offer. He points out that Sixers president Daryl Morey can pick up more trade assets by sending James Harden to the Clippers before addressing Lillard.