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.