Damian Lillard has expressed his desire to join the Miami Heat, outlining several reasons for his trade request from the Portland Trail Blazers. The star guard highlighted these factors in his initial statements regarding the situation.
At 33 years old, Lillard emphasized his goal of winning a championship and officially stated his trade request from Portland. According to Marc J. Spears of Andscape, Lillard is drawn to the acclaimed ‘Heat Culture,’ their consistent high-level success, the stable franchise, the absence of state taxes, and potential marketing prospects.
Setting aside financial considerations (given Lillard’s $45 million-plus contract for this season), the chance of securing his first NBA championship seems improbable with the Trail Blazers. They have missed the playoffs in the last two seasons and only reached the Western Conference Finals once (in 2019) during Lillard’s 11-year tenure.
Lillard’s desire to win his first NBA championship has reached its peak, surpassing previous levels. He explained that when he was younger and winning, he felt time was on his side. As he’s solidified his position in the league over the years, his sense of urgency has grown.
Achieving individual accomplishments no longer suffices; the top priority is winning a championship, the ultimate goal in playing the game. He emphasized that this desire is at its highest point now. Even with added responsibilities like being a father of three, his commitment to training and preparation remains unwavering. Lillard’s main focus is to attain that championship experience he’s been striving for.
“It’s higher than it’s ever been,” Lillard said of his desire to win his first NBA title. “When you’re younger and you’re winning, you realize that you got time. When you establish yourself in the league and you know that you’re here to stay, you feel like you have time. The older you get, that just means more time that you’ve put into it, especially when you’re at the top of the game and you’re having all these individual accomplishments, it becomes more and more of a priority to have the ultimate accomplishment, which is why we play the game, in winning the championship.
“I would say the desire for that now is as high as it’s probably going to be. That’s literally the thing at the top of my list. When I wake up and I got to get up and go do what I got to do, I got to train, I got to make time for my kids, I still got to lift, I got to do all these things and I got to make sure that training and the preparation is still my priority. Even with being a father of three now, not one, and having all these other responsibilities, you need something that you feel pretty strong about to stay committed the way I’ve been committed. It’s as high as it’s going to get. That’s ultimately what I want to experience and that’s what I want to get done.”
The turning point mentioned in the Andscape report refers to Portland’s trade of C.J. McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans in February 2022. This move impacted Lillard significantly as they were close friends, and the Trail Blazers’ playoff streak ended after McCollum’s departure.
On the other hand, the Miami Heat recently reached their second NBA Finals in four years, losing to the Denver Nuggets in 2023 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. With core players like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, adding Lillard would make them strong contenders for this season’s championship.
However, negotiations between the Heat and Trail Blazers have stalled, with Miami’s offers not meeting Portland’s preferences. Miami has considered trading Tyler Herro and draft picks while pursuing players like Kelly Oubre Jr. and Christian Wood. Despite the delay affecting Miami’s roster plans, a successful trade for Lillard could bring him closer to his goal of winning an NBA championship.