The Miami Heat are facing competition from other interested parties in the Damian Lillard sweepstakes.
According to a report by Marc J. Spears on ESPN’s NBA Today, an undisclosed Eastern Conference team has entered the race to acquire Lillard’s services.
“I’m kind of hearing rumors about another Eastern Conference team that I’m not gonna throw out there just yet.”
Marc J. Spears with the latest on the Damian Lillard trade rumors
(H/T @TheDunkCentral )
— BASKETBALL ON 𝕏 (@BasketballOnX) September 18, 2023
However, Spears did not reveal the identity of this mysterious team. Lillard had previously expressed his desire to be traded from the Portland Trail Blazers, with the Miami Heat as his preferred destination.
Two months ago, Damian Lillard formally requested a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers. Reports indicated that he initially expressed a desire to be traded to a team with promising assets.
However, a disagreement with the Blazers’ general manager led to Lillard specifically selecting the Miami Heat as his preferred trade destination.
Nonetheless, discussions between the two organizations have encountered has hit a roadblock, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst pointed out that they have significant disagreements regarding the terms of the trade.
In his podcast, The Hoop Collective, Brian Windhorst mentioned that the Blazers are essentially asking the Miami Heat to thoroughly search for and offer every possible asset they have to secure Damian Lillard.
But the Miami Heat do not believe it’s necessary to go to such lengths to meet the Blazers’ demands.
Blazers reportedly eyeing a major asset exchange from the Heat in Damian Lillard talks..
“What the Blazers want, if they’re dealing with one team, if it is Miami or nothing, they want what the Nets got from the Suns [for Kevin Durant], which is the Suns literally scrounging…. pic.twitter.com/n58qidfbnY
— NBArepublic.com (@nba_republic) September 18, 2023
The Miami Heat might be hesitant to part with key assets due to the strong position they currently hold, but the involvement of another interested team could potentially expedite the trade talks.
Among potential suitors, the Philadelphia 76ers are in the mix, although Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports previously reported that Lillard didn’t view them as his top choice.
The Boston Celtics have also shown interest, with star forward Jayson Tatum actively trying to recruit Lillard, but Lillard’s primary focus has consistently been on joining the Miami Heat.
Additionally, the Brooklyn Nets seem poised to fill the role of the mystery team in the discussions, offering the intriguing prospect of teaming up Lillard with Mikal Bridges.
Lillard has formally requested a trade, although the Portland Trail Blazers are not obligated to fulfill it.
He remains under contract until 2026, with a player option for 2027. But then, the Blazers appear to be in a rebuilding phase after a disappointing 33-49 season in 2022-2023, and Lillard’s outstanding performance could be a valuable asset for any championship contender.
Surprisingly, the Milwaukee Bucks are also emerging as dark horses in the Damian Lillard sweepstakes, fueled by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s expressed desire to play alongside Lillard. However, there are rumors circulating about Giannis potentially leaving the Bucks.
In the 2022-2023 season, Lillard showcased his excellence by averaging 32.2 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.8 rebounds in 58 games, earning him his seventh All-Star selection.
The addition of Lillard’s dynamic play to any of the aforementioned teams would undoubtedly position them as serious contenders in the Eastern Conference.
As training camp approaches within the next two weeks, there’s uncertainty about whether Damian Lillard will be traded before the regular season begins. Even if a trade does happen, it raises questions about whether it will align with his preferred choice of destination.