Damian Lillard

Bucks To Acquire Damian Lillard In Three-Team Trade

The Bucks have reached an agreement to trade for star Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard in a blockbuster three-team deal that also includes the Suns, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links).

According to Wojnarowski, Portland will acquire guard Jrue Holiday and an unprotected 2029 first-round pick from the Bucks, along with the right to swap first-round picks with Milwaukee in 2028 and 2030. The Blazers will also get center Deandre Ayton, and rookie forward Toumani Camara from the Suns in the deal.

In exchange for Ayton, Phoenix will receive center Jusuf Nurkic, forward Nassir Little, and guard Keon Johnson from Portland, as well as wing Grayson Allen from Milwaukee, per Woj.

The massive deal is the culmination of a saga that lasted nearly three months, as Lillard requested a trade out of Portland in early July. The seven-time All-Star had spent his entire 11-year NBA career with the Trail Blazers but felt that the team was no longer moving toward championship contention following consecutive lottery seasons and sought a change of scenery.

Miami was Lillard’s landing spot of choice, but reports throughout the process indicated that there was little contact between the Heat and Trail Blazers. In recent days, with the Blazers believed to be working to make a deal before the start of training camp, other Eastern Conference suitors like the Raptors and Bucks were increasingly connected to the 33-year-old.

Milwaukee has emerged as the surprise winner of the Lillard sweepstakes, beating a series of conference rivals to the punch and strengthening a core that also includes two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and standout starters Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, who both signed new free agent contracts with the club this offseason.

While there have been questions about whether Lillard would be happy about reporting to any team besides the Heat, he and Antetokounmpo have both expressed a desire to play with one another over the years, as Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and Alex Kennedy of BasketballNews.com point out (all Twitter links). And the Bucks should certainly give Lillard the best chance to win a title he has had in his career.

Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo may not be any more inclined to sign a long-term extension with the Bucks following the acquisition of Lillard than he was earlier in the offseason, given that he would benefit financially from waiting another year. However, in dealing for another star like Lillard, the Bucks’ front office certainly proved it heard Giannis’ call for the organization to be as serious about contending for titles as he is.

The Blazers, who patiently scoured the market for most of the offseason in the wake of Lillard’s trade request, will come away from the deal with a pair of intriguing new players in Ayton and Holiday, though the big man is more likely to remain in Portland than the veteran guard.

According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), the Blazers – who are focused on developing a young backcourt that features Shaedon Sharpe, Anfernee Simons, and this year’s No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson – remain engaged in trade talks involving Holiday and could flip him to a contender for additional assets.

More to come…

Heat Notes: Lillard, Jovic, Martin, Love

Despite the recent deluge of rumors linking Damian Lillard to the Raptors, Toronto-based reporter Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link) says the growing consensus around the NBA is that the Trail Blazers guard will ultimately land in Miami, his preferred destination.

If Lillard is sent to Miami, what would the Heat realistically have to give up? One veteran scout who spoke to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald believes that a package of Tyler Herro, three first-round picks, cap filler (likely Kyle Lowry‘s expiring contract), and one player from the trio of Nikola Jovic, Jaime Jaquez, and Caleb Martin would make sense for both sides.

“If I’m the Heat, I offer two (first-round) picks, Herro and one of the three young players, preferably Jovic or Jaquez, and see if anybody tops that,” the scout said. “If you have to give up one more pick, fine. Three picks are rich for a guy who’s 33 with ($216MM) left on his contract. But I could understand offering a third. I would do it if that made the difference in making the deal.”

Previous reporting indicated that Miami initially made an offer that included Herro and two first-round picks.

Because they owe a protected 2025 first-round pick to Oklahoma City, the Heat can currently only include two first-rounders in any trade package, due to the Stepien rule. They would have to reach a separate agreement with the Thunder amending the terms of that traded pick in order to free up a third movable first-rounder. Alternatively, they could offer one or more first-round pick swaps.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Speaking to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, Nikola Jovic discussed his experience playing for Serbia in the FIBA World Cup, the status of a back injury that bothered him earlier in the year, and how it felt to have his name pop up in the Lillard trade rumors. A busy summer helped Jovic not spend much time thinking about that trade speculation, he told Chiang. “You just concentrate on other things. I was just so concentrated on basketball there that I didn’t have time to think about what’s going to happen,” Jovic said. “It’s a business. So what happens happens. But of course, right now when I’m (in Miami) and more people talk about it, it’s different than when I was there and just playing and being in the game all the time.”
  • Chiang also interviewed Caleb Martin, who said that Miami feels like a “second home” to him after two years with the Heat and spoke about the offseason departures of Max Strus and Gabe Vincent. “We have to find that new connectivity and chemistry with the new guys,” Martin said. “But I feel like we got the right type of guys who fit that system and that shouldn’t be hard. It seems like everybody is about winning. You know what it is when you come to play for the Heat. So you just gotta jump in line with the culture. I feel like we got the right guys to do that.”
  • In a pair of articles for The Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman evaluates the Heat’s depth chart at small forward and power forward. As Winderman observes, one starting lineup decision on tap for Miami will be whether to try Martin as a starter at the four again or stick with a more traditional power forward like Kevin Love.

Damian Lillard Rumors: Heat, Raptors, Bucks

While the Trail Blazers and Heat could rekindle their Damian Lillard trade discussions at some point, each team has an understanding about where the other stands, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, who says there’s a “fundamental disagreement” between the two clubs about what a fair deal for Lillard looks like.

As Chiang explains, the reason why there has only been limited communication between Portland and Miami in the last few weeks is because a deal sending Lillard to the Heat only seems possible if one of the two teams decides to deviate from its current plan — in other words, the Blazers would have to accept much less than they want to for Lillard, or the Heat would have to offer more than they currently intend to.

A league source who spoke last week to Portland’s front office was told by the Blazers that a trade sending Lillard to Miami is “unlikely,” according to Chiang. We may find out soon whether that’s true or if it’s simply posturing.

Here’s more on Lillard:

  • Amid rumors that the Raptors appear to be the frontrunners to land Lillard, Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report (Twitter link) is the latest reporter to say that he’s hearing more chatter about Toronto than any other suitor as of late, though he remains wary of how seriously to take that chatter.
  • Whatever a Raptors offer for Lillard looks like, it won’t include 2022 Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, league sources tell Kurt Helin of NBC Sports. Toronto’s front office loves Barnes and hasn’t made him available via trade, according to Helin, who adds, “It’s not that Toronto took him off the table — Barnes was never in the same room as the table.”
  • In his latest update on Lillard, Marc J. Spears of ESPN identified the Bucks, Celtics, Sixers, and Bulls as teams besides Toronto and Miami that have shown interest in Lillard since he asked to be moved. While most of those clubs have been mentioned as potential suitors this offseason, we haven’t heard much about Milwaukee. Based on their current cap situation and trade restrictions, the Bucks would almost certainly have to include Jrue Holiday in any offer for Lillard.

Latest On Raptors’ Interest In Damian Lillard

The Raptors are now the frontrunners to land Damian Lillard, two high-ranking executives told ESPN’s Marc Spears.

Reports of genuine interest by Toronto’s front office to land the perennial All-Star guard have surfaced in recent days. It’s almost been a foregone conclusion since Lillard requested a trade at the beginning of July that he would inevitably end up with the Heat, his preferred destination.

However, there haven’t been any substantial trade conversations between the Trail Blazers and Heat, according to Spears. Meanwhile, the Raptors have had recent conversations with the Blazers regarding Lillard, though there’s nothing imminent in terms a potential blockbuster deal.

That could change soon. Those same unnamed executives believe Lillard will be dealt before media day next Monday.

Toronto’s package could include some combination of Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes and/or OG Anunoby. The Blazers are also highly interested in the Raptors’ first-round pick, Gradey Dick. The Heat initially offered a trade package that included Tyler Herro and two first-round draft picks, according to Spears’ sources.

While the Raptors front office has long admired Lillard, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports isn’t quite sure if it will go all-in on a 33-year-old point guard with a four-year contract worth upwards of $216MM. Lewenberg doubts the Raptors would include Barnes in any deal and doesn’t see the 29-year-old Siakam as a fit for the Blazers.

He speculates a Lillard package from the Raptors could include Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr., Dick, salary filler and multiple first-round picks. In that case, Toronto might need to lift the protections on the 2024 pick it sent to San Antonio in the deadline-day trade for Jakob Poeltl last February.

Whether Lillard would be happy to go north of the border is a major question mark. He believes he’d have a great shot at a ring by joining forces with Heat stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The lack of a state tax in Florida, greater marketing potential and the Heat’s renowned culture also intrigue him, according to Spears.

Damian Lillard Rumors: Raptors, Little, Magic, Simmons

Multiple reporters have linked the Raptors to Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard over the past handful of days. Sources confirm to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca that Toronto is “very much in the mix” for the seven-time All-NBA guard.

Grange cautions that there’s still work to be done on completing a potential deal, but the two sides have made progress in negotiations.

In an appearance on the Five On The Floor podcast hosted by Ethan Skolnick and Greg Sylvander, Matt Moore of Action Network said the Raptors came close to trading for Lillard on Thursday, but downplayed their current interest.

The Toronto stuff is just leveraging… I heard things were red hot on Thursday and again (Raptors vice chairman) Masai (Ujiri) walked away and then came back… I wouldn’t worry about the Raptors,” Moore said, per NBA Central (Twitter link).

However, Grange has heard differently, writing that from the information he has gathered, the Raptors are “very interested.”

As has been reported ad nauseam, Lillard hopes to land with the Heat, though Miami hadn’t been involved in trade talks with Portland as of a few days ago. The Magic are an under-the-radar team that could “make themselves heard” in the Lillard sweepstakes, sources tell Grange.

A Raptors deal centered around OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr., Thaddeus Young and draft picks would work from a financial standpoint, Grange observes. Toronto has also expressed interest in Blazers forward Nassir Little in the past, Grange notes.

That said, there are complications on a trade coming together. For starters, Lillard’s agent is Aaron Goodwin, who also represents DeMar DeRozan. Ujiri famously traded DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard in 2018, which led to Toronto’s first championship, but there was a fallout between Goodwin and Ujiri. Granges writes that the two men are believed to be on better terms now, but it’s still noteworthy.

Sam Amick of The Athletic also recently suggested Lillard might hold out if he were traded to the Raptors, writing that the 33-year-old “clearly doesn’t want to be” in Toronto. Raptors players tried to recruit Lillard a few years ago following Leonard’s departure, according to Grange, and were “instantly rebuffed.”

Still, Grange is skeptical Lillard would actually go the nuclear route, since it would tarnish his reputation and he would also lose a significant chunk of money. For example, when Ben Simmons held out for several months ahead of a trade in 2021/22, he lost about $20MM of his $33MM salary in the settlement with the Sixers, sources tell Grange. The NBA has also made clear with the player participation policy and awards tied to games played that it expects players to actually show up and perform, Grange notes.

While it’s easy to draw parallels between Toronto’s interest in Lillard and the team’s trade for Leonard, the situations are also markedly different. The Raptors had won 59 games in 2017/18 versus 41 last season — even with Lillard, the current group doesn’t seem like it’s close to contention. Lillard also has four years left on his contract and he’ll make a combined $121MM at ages 35 and 36, which carries far more risk than Leonard’s expiring deal did back in 2018.

The possible downside seems to outweigh the upside, which is why both Grange and Eric Koreen of The Athletic argue the Raptors should not trade for Lillard, even if they may have the assets to make it happen.

Stein’s Latest: Lillard, Raptors, Hield, Lively, Howard

There’s a growing belief around the league that the Raptors have legitimate interest in trading for Damian Lillard, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column (subscription required).

There has been skepticism over Toronto’s desire to make a deal, Stein adds, considering that the front office hasn’t been active even though trade rumors have been swirling around the team since January, particularly regarding Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. He notes that any remaining uncertainty is related to Lillard’s strong preference for Miami over every other market.

Stein compares the Lillard situation to the Raptors’ pursuit of Kawhi Leonard five years ago. Unlike Leonard, who was entering the final year of his contract, Lillard is signed for four more years and is owed nearly $220MM. Toronto also doesn’t have the foundation in place to compete for a title with one more big move, the way it did when it traded for Leonard.

Stein believes the Trail Blazers would prefer to wrap up the summer-long Lillard saga before the team’s media day next Monday. However, negotiations with the Heat are on hold as they and many other teams around the league think about preserving their assets for a potential run at Giannis Antetokounmpo or any other star who might become available.

Portland doesn’t want to part with Lillard for less than his market value, Stein adds, but the alternative is to deal with the distractions that will come with keeping him for training camp and beyond.

Stein shares more inside information from around the league:

  • Several NBA executives disagree with Stein’s statement on his radio show that the Pacers can get a future first-round pick for Buddy Hield. Stein says he talked to several front office people who believe Hield’s expiring $19.3MM contract will limit his trade value because of the uncertainty about re-signing him. They see his ceiling as multiple second-rounders.
  • Appearing on Stein’s show, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said rookie center Dereck Lively II will get an opportunity to win a starting job in training camp. Stein notes that Dallas pursued the Hawks’ Clint Capela and the Suns’ Deandre Ayton during the offseason, but wasn’t able to work out a deal for a veteran big man. Christian Wood left in free agency and JaVale McGee was waived, leaving Dwight Powell as the only incumbent center on the roster. Richaun Holmes was acquired in a draft night trade, and Maxi Kleber may see time as a small-ball five.
  • Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and Grant Williams are the Mavericks‘ only definite starters heading into camp, added Kidd, who said first-round pick Olivier-Maxence Prosper will also compete for a starting job. “I look for those rookies to play a lot this season,” Kidd told Stein. “They’re going to be a part of our fabric.”
  • Dwight Howard‘s interview with the Warriors last week wasn’t the first time he has thought about joining the team. Stein recalls that Golden State wanted to sign Howard when he became a free agent in 2013, and he even worked out that summer with Stephen Curry, but he chose the Rockets instead.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Giannis, Hart, Harden

For the first time in years, the Nets will report to training camp without a superstar on their roster, but they have plenty of assets ready for when the next one becomes available, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn is in a transition phase after shipping out Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in separate deals last February. Those trades gave the team a foundation built around Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, along with a parcel of draft assets that can match any team in the league.

The Nets have seven tradable first-round picks through 2030, along with four others that could be involved in swaps. They own unprotected firsts from the Suns in 2027 and 2029 and one from the Mavericks in 2029. Lewis points out that those picks could greatly increase in value as the core in Phoenix becomes older and especially if Irving and Luka Doncic eventually decide to leave Dallas.

Lewis doesn’t expect Brooklyn to use any of its assets to chase players who are currently on the market such as Damian Lillard, Tyler Herro or James Harden. The front office wants to be fully stocked in case a major star such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Donovan Mitchell or Doncic eventually becomes available.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks risk missing out on other opportunities if they decide to wait for the possibility of an Antetokounmpo trade, Ian Begley of SNY.tv states in a mailbag column. He points to Raptors forward OG Anunoby as an example of a useful talent who might be available through trade, but New York can’t make a bid for him if the front office is determined to preserve its assets for a run at Antetokounmpo. Begley also notes that Antetokounmpo could ultimately decide to stay in Milwaukee or force his way to another team.
  • The Knicks appear to have Josh Hart penciled in as their backup power forward, Begley adds. New York hasn’t signed anyone to replace Obi Toppin after trading him to Indiana, and using Hart in that role could open up playing time for free agent addition Ryan Arcidiacono.
  • The attention being focused on a potential Lillard deal is holding up any progress the Sixers could be making on a Harden trade, Derek Bodner states on the latest PHLY Sports podcast. Philadelphia talked to the Trail Blazers about a Lillard deal this summer, Kyle Neubeck adds, but he cautions that doesn’t mean the teams were ever close to a deal.

Jazz, Bulls, Hornets, Nets Interested In Tyler Herro

Add the Jazz to the list of teams that could be involved on the periphery of a Damian Lillard trade, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

In particular, if the Trail Blazers eventually trade Lillard to the Heat, the Jazz, Bulls, Hornets and Nets are all thought to be interested in acquiring Tyler Herro in a multi-team trade, sources tell Fischer. Portland is reportedly unenthusiastic about Herro, in part because the team already has a trio of young guards in Scoot Henderson, Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simons.

League personnel also expect the Blazers to ask the Heat for Jaime Jaquez in a possible deal, according to Fischer. A small forward out of UCLA, Jaquez was selected 18th overall by Miami in June’s draft.

Brooklyn has long been considered a team with a level of interest in Herro. The other three teams are new possible landing spots for the 23-year-old, however, from what we’ve seen reported in recent months.

Trade talks for Lillard have picked up steam ahead of training camp, though a deal isn’t considered imminent. The Bulls and Raptors are reportedly among Lillard’s other suitors, despite the veteran guard making it clear (via his agent) that he wants to land in Miami.

Multiple sources tell Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports that the Pacers are another team that could potentially help facilitate a Lillard trade, along with the Suns.

Indiana is looking to move Buddy Hield after extension talks fizzled. It’s unclear where Hield would be headed in that scenario — or if he’d even be involved. Dallas, Philadelphia and Milwaukee are rumored to be interested in the veteran sharpshooter.

Raptors Considered Legitimate Suitor For Damian Lillard

The Heat have long been viewed as the frontrunner to land Damian Lillard, in large part because Miami is his preferred destination.

However, outside of the Heat, the Raptors are one of the top contenders – “if not the most viable threat” – to trade for the Trail Blazers star, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Fischer draws a comparison to the Donovan Mitchell deal last year, when the Knicks were long viewed as the favorite to land the All-NBA guard but the Cavaliers surprisingly traded for him instead.

A couple different reporters have cited the Raptors as a possible Lillard suitor, and Fischer suggests their interest is more than just cursory. Still, despite being involved in plenty of rumors over the past year, Toronto’s lack of actual moves has created skepticism around the league that the team will actually acquire Lillard, Fischer writes.

As for what Toronto would give up, OG Anunoby is a name worth watching, according to Fischer, but it’s unclear where the defensive stalwart would eventually land in a potential deal. Sources tell Fischer that Scottie Barnes is off limits and Pascal Siakam is unlikely to be involved, but first-rounder Gradey Dick could be included.

The Trail Blazers are focused on finding the “greatest possible return” for Lillard, sources tell Fischer, and have “strongly considered” the possibility of acquiring Suns center Deandre Ayton as part of a multi-team framework. Ayton’s potential involvement was first reported by John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 on Thursday night.

The Bulls are also interested in Lillard, Fischer confirms, but teams around the league — including Portland — aren’t excited about acquiring Zach LaVine, who has been available for a few months now, as Fischer has reported multiple times.

Windhorst Says Heat Aren’t “Desperate” For Damian Lillard

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on Friday that trade talks for Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard have “intensified” but no deal is imminent. Wojnarowski also said the Heat — Lillard’s preferred landing spot — haven’t been involved in recent trade talks with Portland, though he did caution that could change at a moment’s notice.

In addition to confirming Wojnarowski’s report, his ESPN colleague Brian Windhorst says Miami hasn’t been acting like a team that’s prepared to go all-in to land Lillard.

I don’t think the Heat are desperate at all to trade for Damian Lillard,” Windhorst said on NBA Today (YouTube link). “I think they want to trade for him, but I don’t think that it’s something that if they don’t get it done that it wrecks their season.

They were in the Finals last year. They have young players that are getting better. They have assets that they can trade for other deals. And as we talked about earlier on the show, Dame Lillard isn’t potentially the only star player that could be on the market. Maybe not today, but certainly in the next six-to-12-to-18 months.

I don’t think the Heat have ever approached it like it’s the be-all, end-all,” Windhorst added. “… Like Woj reported, and I have heard the same thing … I don’t think that the Heat and the Trail Blazers have been engaged in talks at all, on almost any level, for quite some time.

That could change very quickly. Dame Lillard could be a member of the Heat in the short-term future. But I think that there has been a misjudgment in sort of the way it’s all viewed, that this is something that the Heat have absolutely got to get done, and I just don’t think they view it that way.”

For what it’s worth, when Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link) sent Windhorst’s explanation of the Heat’s thinking to an “involved source,” Jackson was told that it was “100 percent right.”