Chris Mannix: Lillard again declines to discuss what will go into his decision making process. Says he will continue to only discuss it with his team.
Mark Medina: Damian Lillard: "I have made no firm decision on what my future will be." But he stressed it's not true he wants Portland to trade him
All Trail Blazers: "We're not even to that point [of Lillard asking to be traded]...As of right now, he just wants to see a change and he wants to get away from the norm. That is his focus." @ChrisBHaynes on Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard is not planning to demand that the Portland Trail Blazers trade him, an NBA source has told The Oregonian/OregonLive.
Henry Abbott of Truehoop.com reported this morning that a source told him that Lillard wants out and will request a trade in the coming days. A source has told The Oregonian/OregonLive that Abbott’s report is not true.
Chris Haynes: Having known you for years and your position, why is this current juncture such a pivotal moment for you? Damian Lillard: There are few reasons: One being I'm not getting any younger. Our environment has always been great. We’re not losing a lot, but we were eliminated by a shorthanded Denver team that I felt we should have beat. I just walked away from that really disappointed. I was like, ‘Man, this just isn't going to work.’ We're not winning the championship, but we’ve got a successful organization. We're not a franchise that’s just out here losing every year and getting divided. We have positive seasons; we just don't end up with a championship.
Damian Lillard: So I feel like at this point, I basically made the decision that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you've always been. Just like I hold myself accountable for a bad performance or hold myself accountable to make sure that I work my ass off when I’m training, I must be accountable for saying what needs to be said even if it's not popular. And that just comes with age. When I was younger, I felt like maybe I'll be out of place, but I feel like I've earned the right to say we must do better. We must do better if we want to win on that level. (Lillard will address a report about his future with the team following Team USA practice on Friday.)
Damian Lillard: I think that's the stage we're at as a team where we all, not just me, not just my teammates, not just our new coaching staff, the front office, everybody in this organization must look in the mirror because we’ve constantly come up short. We have to look in the mirror and say I have to be better because whatever it is we’re doing is not working and it’s not giving us the shot to compete on the level that we want to compete on.
Henry Abbott: Source: Blazers star Damian Lillard to request trade in the days to come. If this is a surprise, you haven't been paying attention. Jusuf Nurkic: Y’all really about to believe a guy with a name Henry abboott 🤖.🤣🤣🤣.🧢🧢
Grant Afseth: Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard has his eyes on the New York Knicks among trade destinations in the event he were to be dealt, per a source. Jusuf Nurkic: What a 🤡 bruh... Keep 🧢 🤡.
If this is a surprise, you haven’t been paying attention. As an organization, the Blazers have been melting since their playoff exit. Coach Terry Stotts was cut loose. Sources say billionaire Jody Allen plans to sell the team. The Blazers are prominent in trade rumors.
Lately Lillard has been with Team USA, mostly in Los Angeles, far from the Blazers drama. (Team USA has a history of inspiring NBA stars to dream of playing together. Time on Team USA bonded Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James before they assembled on the Heat.) Last Thursday, Lillard told reporters he was prepared to do his job “every year like I always do” but stopped well short of endorsing anyone or anything about the Blazers.
Yet even if Morey, deep down, wishes he had a do-over on his January or March dealings, he has shown little inclination to rush into shedding Simmons, which is undoubtedly a nod to one of the most complex situations he has ever faced. All teams covet the biggest stars, but Morey is especially obsessive about it. He will surely tune out the naysayers who suggest Simmons can no longer be the centerpiece for the acquisition of a Bradley Beal-type superstar. Portland’s CJ McCollum has been mentioned often as a potential Sixers target in a Simmons deal; rest assured that Morey longs for Damian Lillard if he is targeting any Trail Blazer.
Anthony Slater: Would the Warriors get involved (in a Damian Lillard potential trade)? Yes. They’d make a call and have already internally discussed the idea, as I’m sure most contenders have, considering the rising smoke out of Portland.
But then there’s the Lillard side. Would he want to come to San Francisco — not his hometown of Oakland anymore — and serve as a backcourt 1B to Steph Curry? My sense is no. And I don’t think any trade or Lillard gets past first base if he hasn’t already approved the landing spot.
Rapper/businessman Ice Cube issued a challenge to Damian Lillard. Cube, real name O’Shea Jackson, is a big Los Angeles Lakers fan. He appeared on Stephen A. Smith’s show on Friday and was asked what advice he would give Lillard regarding the Portland guard’s future. “If you want a championship, he should come join the Lakers,” Cube told Smith. “If you want to just score a lot of points and be the man, stay in Portland. But come win a championship. You deserve it. He’s given a lot to that city. So give some of that love to the L.A. Lakers, man.”
In a Lillard trade, the Knicks don’t want to have their roster ransacked but likely are willing to give up three of their future first-round picks. RJ Barrett is not considered an untouchable in a deal for a superstar, according to a source.
Numerous times in the past Damian Lillard has affirmed he has no intention of wanting to be traded from the Portland Trail Blazers. Dealing with a fresh round of speculation in the wake of a coaching change, Lillard said Thursday he'll keep his thoughts on the direction of the team between himself and the franchise. "Anything that I have to say, I'm going to say directly to [Blazers general manager] Neil [Olshey] and I'm going to address it directly with my team," Lillard said after the third day of Team USA training camp in Las Vegas. "There's really nothing else I have to say about it."
"There's a lot of things being said and sometimes words being put in my mouth and I haven't said anything," Lillard said. "If there is something to be said or if I think something or have something to say that I'm going to say it and I'm going to stand on it."
Every NBA person I talked to said Sixers GM Daryl Morey wants someone such as Damian Lillard in a Simmons deal. The Love/Sexton/draft pick package would have little appeal to him.
J. Michael Falgoust: While #Pacers are open to moving down from 13 or packaging it in a deal, Im told there havent been any talks w/#Sixers who are angling for Lillard. For context about Pacers, they avoid albatross contracts. Had a deal in place for Conley 2 yrs ago nixed by Simon. Too much salary
“The other is Damian Lillard. It’s still very much up in the air, Lillard’s future in Portland. If in the coming weeks the Blazers decide that they have to trade Damian Lillard, I think Boston would be in a pretty good position to make a strong offer that would have to include Jaylen Brown. So, you don’t just move him to shake things up, but if one of those two players becomes available I think you have to look long and hard about trading Jaylen Brown.”
Another source questioned why either team would make that deal, specifically saying it doesn’t do enough to address Philadelphia’s need for leadership. The source suggested the Kings could make a serious play for Simmons if they make De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton available. Some believe the 76ers could make a move for Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal or Damian Lillard instead.
It’s worth noting that in 2019 Lillard was on Leonard’s list of stars he wanted to team up with, league sources say. But Lillard has four seasons remaining on his contract. Portland doesn’t need to trade him. If it came to the point where a trade was inevitable, Los Angeles wouldn’t have many goodies to add to a trade involving George, and if the Blazers would rather have younger players and picks, the Clippers would easily be outbid.
The source told the Daily News that the Knicks are interested in packaging rising star RJ Barrett in a deal for a star guard, like Portland’s Damian Lillard or Washington’s Bradley Beal. If both the Trail Blazers and Wizards are uninterested in a deal, the source says the Knicks are also monitoring Cleveland’s Collin Sexton, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Charlotte’s Terry Rozier as younger guards the franchise can fold into its plans for the future.
First, given Lillard is heading into the first season of a four-year $176.3 million supermax extension, why would the Blazers honor such a request? That was a hotly debated question in NBA circles on Sunday. Lillard is under contract through at least the 2023-24 season, with a $48.8 million player option for 2024-25. With three fully guaranteed seasons ahead, Portland has no obligation to trade their best player and no obligation to send him to a contender of his choice. Right? Maybe.
"Portland has the leverage contractually, for sure, but Dame could pull a [James] Harden and make it messy to gain leverage," one player agent said. "He's a star [and stars have a lot of power in the NBA]," a former Western Conference executive said. "I think [a trade] will be agreed to mutually, but Portland will direct it."
Several teams made overtures but ultimately backed away when Harden indicated he wasn't interested in playing for their franchise. He had enough juice to not only push Houston into a deal, but also to one of his desired teams. "Harden has a very different situation contractually," a second player agent argued. "I assume Portland can/will trade Lillard wherever they want."
A Warriors offer may be the best. Even if the Blazers don't love Wiseman or the draft picks, teams are allowed more than one transaction in an offseason. They can look to move those assets on if they are looking for something specific. Is Golden State ready to add another player making over $40 million a season when Curry (who is due an extension), Thompson and Green are all highly paid? Subtracting Wiggins' deal would help.
"The Warriors are the only team that can make a trade and still contend, although the fit is questionable," one of the agents said. "The Warriors would have to do that. They'd be unstoppable," the former executive said.
Brian Windhorst: Executives out there and and teams out there that are in the hunt for star players, they have Damian Lillard 's name on the board, sort of high up. And then maybe down, not high on the board, but down on the sort of middle right side of the board... They have Donovan Mitchell.
Brian Windhorst: I don't think Chauncey is going to go into this worried that Damian is getting closer to the edge and and wants out. I know that it's very tempting to run to the trade machine and start to do Damian trades. But while I definitely see storm clouds over there, I'm not ready to say based on my conversations, I'm not ready to say that that's where it's at.
Obviously, Portland wouldn’t trade Lillard unless it was forced to do so. But as you’d expect, members of the Knicks organization have been doing homework/prep work on the possibility of Lillard becoming available via trade, per sources.
People in touch with the organization recently came away with the impression that New York would be interested in trading for Lillard, but would also be content to take a longer-term approach with the roster if the right opportunity didn’t arise.
Boston’s pursuit of Lillard will likely come to down their inclusion of Brown, which, understandably so, is an extremely hard decision to make. With Brown’s inclusion, the Celtics might not need to add too much more beyond an additional prospect and a first-round pick or two. Still, Brown is just 24-years-old and is still improving. He may never be as great as Lillard but the longevity of Brown and Tatum could outweigh the smaller window of contention Lillard and Tatum would have. There is so much the Celtics can still do to build a contender around Brown and Tatum over the next few years.
If the Warriors offer the kitchen sink for Lillard, it’s going to be hard for the Blazers to decline. In all likelihood, there will be a lot of pressure league-wide for Portland not totrade Lillard to Golden State. It’s already impossible to provide adequate coverage on Stephen Curry and Lillard alone, who need just a slither of space to get what is considered a good shot for them. The two of them together, along with a healthy Klay Thompson as a tertiary lethal shooter, and Draymond Green facilitating and setting screens, feels like an unstoppable offense.
Lillard has remained loyal to Portland in large due to the tremendous fan base. But over the last few days, he’s seen some of those same fans attacking him on social media for a pending coaching hire he played no part in consummating, sources said. Portland is currently in negotiations to make Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Chauncey Billups its next head coach.
None of the candidates that were interviewed were from suggestions from Lillard, sources said. And although the All-NBA guard has a relationship with Billups as a coach, announcer and former player, he had no prior knowledge of the past sexual assault allegations against him from 1997.
Of course, the Knicks could also look to package those picks in a trade for a star player. Including this draft, New York has five first-round picks in the next three drafts. So the club has plenty of draft capital to use in a trade. If a star like Damian Lillard somehow becomes available via trade, New York would have to offer that draft capital in any trade conversations with Portland.
Kanter doesn’t think Lillard wants out despite indications of his displeasure with the Blazers not getting out of the first round this season. The Knicks are monitoring Lillard’s situation with hopes he’ll land on the trade block. “You know one thing he doesn’t care about big markets, small markets,’’ Kanter said Monday on SiriusXM Radio. “He wants to win it all in Portland. I’m saying this every time I talk about him, but he’s definitely one of the most loyal and maybe the most loyal player in the league. People always talk about how good of a player he is, but he’s actually one of the best teammates that I’ve played with.”
“When you’re like one of the top five players in the league, of course you got to be frustrated because you want to go out there and win it all,’’ Kanter said. “And when that is not happening it can be very frustrating, but for him, he wants to do it all in Portland. He doesn’t care about the big market, big-city base, and that he wants to just bring a championship to Portland and the state of Oregon. “I think the one thing that maybe will be frustrating is if he couldn’t do it for Portland because this guy gives it all every night. Every night he’s hurt, he’s tired, he’s going out there and trying to do the best he can to just win with every game and give us 100 percent. So after the playoffs, I was really frustrated and sad because we couldn’t do it for Dame.”
Despite Kanter’s remarks, the Knicks, desperate for a point guard, believe they have assets and cap space to make a trade for a star such as Lillard. In addition, Knicks assistant coach Johnnie Bryant is a mentor of Lillard’s from their native Oakland, Calif. The Knicks have five first-round picks over the next three years. In the upcoming draft, they have three picks in the top 31 — including two first-rounders at 19 and 21. The Knicks are likely willing to include three first-round picks in a Lillard deal and have the cap space to make a transaction smoother mathematically.
Lillard privately requesting a deal would make things easier for Portland. But even if he doesn’t, there’s merit to seeing what’s out there. Reports of teams ramping up the pursuit of Lillard are hardly newsworthy. “We check in every year,” says a rival team executive. “You would be an idiot not to.”
So on Monday, I reached out to Lillard via text message and asked him a series of questions: Where his head was at with the Blazers? Where he stood with Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ top executive? And where his mind was long-term in relation to Portland? I also asked: Was he still whole-heartedly on board here, or was he starting to waver? Lillard’s two-sentence response was polite, and he finished by writing: “I have no comments about anything.”
I still don’t know if I believe Lillard would ever demand a trade out of Portland. It’s just not his style. It’s so against his brand, against his story, against everything he has preached for the past nine years. But, maybe I’m naive. Maybe his desire to win is greater than anything else.
I’ve observed Lillard intently for nine years. Interviewed him thousands of times. I’ve studied his background. Talked to many in his family and inner circle. And I’ve found he is the definition of integrity. He is selfless. He cares about people. He doesn’t do things halfway; when he puts his mind to something, there’s no deterring him. And when you hear him talk about his dreams of winning a title in Portland, not just read his quotes, but actually hear him say it — man, it’s a powerful thing, because I believe it’s coming from a powerful place — his heart.
Ryan Ward: Odds on Damian Lillard’s next team if traded, via @SportsBettingAG: Knicks +250 Clippers +275 Heat +300 Lakers +350 76ers +400 Celtics +450 So Lakers in the mix, but honestly I don’t know how they’d make that happen with the lack of trade assets they have.
But the six-time All-Star turns 31 in July. The nagging injuries have started, and the window to win with Lillard is closing. Olshey has given rival teams no indication that he’s willing to trade Lillard.
Lillard and his agent, Aaron Goodwin, could easily change that tone, though. A person close to Lillard told CNBC that he’s expected to wait to see what the Blazers do this off-season before deciding his future.
A rival NBA agent, who faced a similar situation with a star player, said Lillard could first gauge how serious ownership is about winning. The Blazers’ willingness to pay into the luxury tax, which carries steep financial penalties, is also a factor.
On the business side, McGowan doesn’t want the pressure of losing Lillard, either. When a rebuild occurs, a team loses leverage in negotiating corporate partnerships. The Blazers will be navigating a new regional sports network partner, moving from NBC Sports Northwest to AT&T’s Root Sports. Distribution issues have been a concern for the team for years and has cost it audience reach. But entering a new local TV deal with no superstar isn’t ideal.
Lillard’s value is no secret to management. A team executive, who asked not to be named so he could speak candidly, told CNBC that a Lillard departure is the biggest risk to the franchise’s value declining. The executive added that the team as currently constructed clearly isn’t good enough to win a title. Regardless of who’s to blame, the person said, big changes have to be made.
A Western Conference executive floated the idea of the Clippers trading Paul George this summer if the team failed to meet expectations. Hence, a possible McCollum to the Clippers package. And if Miami can’t lure a Lillard deal, McCollum could be an option there, too.
Sources say several NBA teams — including those in the top markets — are already intensely monitoring this situation in Portland and how it develops to look for an opening to make trade offers.
Clearly, NBA teams have seen this as an opening. Stephen A. Smith revealed on ESPN’s “First Take” Friday that “six or seven” teams have already called the Blazers to inquire about Lillard’s services. One of them was the Knicks, along with the Heat and Clippers. Lillard has three guaranteed years left on his contract, and stands to make $43 million next season.
The key to the Knicks’ potential Lillard bid is their assistant coach, Johnnie Bryant, who is close to the star point guard and is one of his mentors from Oakland. Bryant is a former Jazz assistant who joined Thibodeau’s staff in 2020. “That’s my big brother,’’ Lillard said in 2017 of Bryant. “I remember barely being in the seventh grade, getting ready for an AAU tournament, and Johnnie was in college at Utah, and they would come back and scrimmage us on outside courts with no net.’’
The Knicks – and most other NBA teams – are monitoring the Portland Trail Blazers' situation in the highly unlikely scenario that Damian Lillard seeks a trade. Lillard has consistently stated his desire to win in Portland, so it seems highly unlikely that he would seek a trade.
The Knicks are gearing up to be heavy hitters either on the trade market or in free agency this summer — with point guard their top priority — and they have their antennae up regarding the status of Portland superstar Damian Lillard.
It’s almost a perfect match. The Knicks have a trove of first-round picks, young prospects and a league-high $60 million in cap space to absorb his contact, which is worth $176.3 million over the next four years, according to Spotrac. They also have assistant coach Johnnie Bryant, a fellow Oakland, Calif., product with whom Lillard shares a close bond.
According to one league executive, the Knicks likely would be willing to trade three or four of their first-rounders in a deal for Lillard if that means they can hold onto Barrett and Obi Toppin.
Those talks, Lillard said, have revisited the same topics from nearly two years ago. The suggestions they leave for better teams or bigger markets. The notion they could do better, be better and live better in a different city. “I know how he feels because I get that all the time: ‘You should go here; you should go there …’ from all kinds of different people, and I know he gets it too,” Lillard said. “We’ve had that conversation. … He has the same feeling about it as I have: I just don’t want to go elsewhere. This is our ninth year. We’ve been so invested in this to where it’s like, this is what it is. This is where I want to get it done. And I’m sure he feels that same way.”
“I want to see it through here,’’ Lillard said. “And I want to see it through here more than I care to go somewhere else and just win it, period, you know? I feel like if I did go to another team and we won the championship, I would be obviously beyond happy and excited, but I don’t think it would be the same feeling as if I went through everything we went through here and worked for everything we worked for here. It wasn’t here. It would hit different for me here.’’
On an episode of Million $ Worth of Game, Damian Lillard explained why he won’t be joining a Super Team during his NBA career. The Portland Trail Blazers star doesn’t criticize those around the league who make the choices to join a Super Team, but he’d prefer to take a more challenging and rewarding path. “I would never do that,” Lillard said. “I mean I don’t control—if the team decides to trade me somewhere, I can’t control that, but it ain’t for me.”
A source with knowledge of Lillard’s situation said there was Lakers interest in a superstar pairing with Lillard and LeBron James before the Davis deal went down in June 2019. What’s more, the source said there was a Brooklyn Nets scenario that never evolved which could have paired Kevin Durant with Lillard last summer if only he’d shown any interest (this was before Kyrie Irving’s inclusion had truly crystallized). Of course some of the game’s biggest stars, and/or the power brokers tied to them, have inquired about the possibility of Lillard pushing his way out to come join them.
Earl Watson: Since @Dame_Lillard won’t say it, I will! Before Dame’s last extension he was approached to join a super team! He immediately called me & I’m assuming it’s because he respects me! I asked him, “what do you want to do”?! He didn’t waste a second before he responded, “Big EJ, I want to stay in Portland, build it with my teammates & beat every mf super team”! My response was, “Real ones do things others are afraid to endure”! He didn’t waste a second before he responded, “Big EJ, I want to stay in Portland, build it with my teammates & beat every mf super team”! My response was, “Real ones do things others are afraid to endure”!
Earl Watson: So to the media, stop the bullshit analytics on why @Dame_Lillard is not a superstar in playoffs wins, point minus etc... if not you’ll drive top players to link up just to shut you up & kill the game! Dame doesn’t control FA,draft or attractiveness to the city he was drafted to! Lastly, whether he does it this season or next whenever... Thank you for pissing off the wrong one! @Dame_Lillard feeds on the doubters, haters, attention seeking whatever! True Oakland & True Warrior! Portland has a Real 0ne! ???#familia
"I wouldn't even say it was somebody offering me to go to another team," Lillard said. "It was just something that was constantly being mentioned to me, like 'You should do this, you should go here.' And I just said, 'That's not what I wish to do.' Where I was drafted, I live there comfortably, my family is comfortable, it's a great organization. … The grass ain't always greener. For me, I feel like we can build something and get it done in Portland. And I really believe that. I don't just say it to say it."
Stone Cold Shea Jackson: It’s mostly trolls I guess. But even homie callin him entitled. Earlier in June and people siding with him. Now they talkin bout him demanding a trade and shit but it ain’t never from him. And that got niggas callin him a bum. And he the realest dude you could find in the league. Damian Lillard: My stance ain’t changed. This is a result of a pandemic and lack of content lol.
When the season shut down, the Trail Blazers were in ninth place; if you move up to eighth, you could play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. You want that? Damian Lillard: Of course. I think we could beat them. As a Knicks fan, I wish you would come here. Madison Square Garden is so great. Damian Lillard: I thought I was headed there a few years ago; I was hearing trade rumors. The Garden is my favorite place to play.
As a Knicks fan, I wish you would come here. Madison Square Garden is so great. Damian Lillard: I thought I was headed there a few years ago; I was hearing trade rumors. The Garden is my favorite place to play.
Based on what Damian Lillard has said in interviews, it seems like he has no interest in leaving Portland. With that said, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith mentioned in 2018 that Lillard would entertain the idea of playing for the Los Angeles Lakers or Portland Trail Blazers. Some opposing executives echoed those thoughts at the time, saying they believed Lillard would welcome the opportunity to play in a bigger market. But this was two years ago and Lillard has said several times that he doesn't want to go anywhere. So it seems like the chances of this happening are negligible at this point.
Do the Blazers have to make a big move before the deadline to keep his commitment in Portland? “That don’t have nothing to do with my commitment to the team,” Lillard said. “I mean, it’s not like we are going to do something that is going to take us to the championship at this point. I think it’s more important for us to protect the assets we have, the guys who are going to be here and who are going to help us going forward. I don’t think it makes sense to sacrifice that just to make a desperate play. “It’s been a tough season, but the season is not over. We can make something of this season as we are, but it’s not worth, you know, saying ‘OK, let’s force something and go do something that at the end of the day doesn’t make sense.’ But that has nothing to do with my commitment. I said it after last game (Golden State): I feel like I can find a way. I can weather the storm. I can go through hard times.”
The Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have no interest in joining the NBA’s player movement — even as the stars have seen their competitors demand trades and forge new allegiances.
"I don’t care what the trend is," Lillard told USA TODAY Sports. "Players are taking control of the power and influence they have. I don’t have an issue with it because there’s been times in the league that players didn’t have that and players were taken advantage of and put in tough situations. So I understand it. But I play for a great organization. I play for a great coach. I love where I live. I have a great situation."
"It will affect a lot of other people," Lillard said of requesting trades, per Yahoo. "Like I'm saying, I do want to win a championship but there's other stuff that means more to me. It's almost like I'm not willing to sell myself out for that instead of impacting this." Lillard also mentioned his relationships in Portland, saying that "I want to win a championship, I compete to win a championship, but I've learned that it's about so many other things. I think a lot of people tell you just because you go out and win a championship ... And then they look back and they're like 'man, this happened because of that, this happened because of that.' When my career is over and I know the relationships that I'm gonna have, I'm going to know the people who knew I was solid with them ... That I did it the right way."
Yahoo Sports NBA: "I'm not willing to sell myself out for (championships)"@Dame_Lillard on why he hasn't left Portland. The @Trailblazers All-Star joined @ChrisBHaynes on the latest episode of Posted Up... You DO NOT want to miss this!
In the interview with Haynes, Lillard discussed how much he values the notion of people looking back when his career is over and respecting the way he did things: "When my career is over and I'm gonna know the relationships that I'm gonna have. I am going to know the people who knew I was solid with them regardless of if I was at the top or if I control it. All of this stuff. That I did it the right way and I took people's situations and their families and what could be into consideration before I just made a decision based off, 'All right, this is what would be best for me. This is what people want to see me do.'"
The Lakers structured their salary cap to make sure they would have space next summer for a maximum-salaried player—whether he comes via free agency or trade. League sources say that when James became convinced Irving couldn't be persuaded to stay in Cleveland, he suggested to the Cavs front office that it deal Irving to the Blazers for All-Star point guard Damian Lillard. The Cavs never called the Blazers, but James' interest has led to speculation about the Lakers trading for Lillard.
James wants to play with Lillard, according to The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, who recently reported that has been the case "since before LeBron even signed with the Lakers." ESPN's Zach Lowe also noted that James has a healthy respect for Lillard's game. (For context below, Lowe made a "crazy prediction" the Trail Blazers could fall short of expectations this season, leading to the departure of a key member of the franchise.) "The most enticing mega-trade on the board not involving Anthony Davis: Lillard to the Lakers for a package centered around Lonzo Ball. Lillard is a perfect fit next to LeBron, and LeBron respects Lillard's game, per sources familiar with the matter. The Lakers could absorb Lillard into cap space this summer without sending out giant matching salaries — salaries they don't have on the books."
Given what you just said, does it bother you when you hear people say the Blazers should split Dame and CJ up? Jusuf Nurkic: Look, what do you get when you split up Dame and CJ? You get a lottery team, 20 wins probably in a year. That's not the goal. For a small-market team, I think that Portland is not appreciating what Dame really is. You're not going to get anytime some player like Dame here. Everybody knows that. The way he treats the city, the way he treats the people, the way he treats the guys around him. Even a person he just met, any day, he treats every person the same. That's what's amazing for me to see.
With all this being said, yet another star could be staring at change, and this time it could help form an L.A. superteam. Here’s a quote by Kevin O’Connor, from The Ringer podcast: LeBron wants to play with Damian Lillard. He’s one of the guys he’d like to play with and that’s chatter around the league. It has been since before LeBron signed with the Lakers, it was one of the many indicators that he was heading there.
The most enticing mega-trade on the board not involving Anthony Davis: Lillard to the Lakers for a package centered around Lonzo Ball. Lillard is a perfect fit next to LeBron, and LeBron respects Lillard's game, per sources familiar with the matter. The Lakers could absorb Lillard into cap space this summer without sending out giant matching salaries -- salaries they don't have on the books.
There have always been whispers in league circles that Portland should break up the Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum duo, but there has been no indication it will. Portland is a playoff bubble team, though, and has few other avenues to make noteworthy changes.
June 28, 2022 | 11:28 am EDT Update
Matej Sportinfo: Luka and Goran were asked about the possibility of them playing together in Dallas next season. Luka: “I would like to answer that, but I think it’s a 100.000 penalty if I did. You should ask the GM about that.” Goran: “We can’t talk about it till july 1st.”
Westbrook’s agent Thad Foucher is planning to file the paperwork Tuesday, sources said. Westbrook has a Wednesday deadline on his option. Westbrook, an eight-time All-Star and 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player, enters the final season of his original five-year, $206 million contract.
June 28, 2022 | 11:13 am EDT Update
We’re talking about, you know, high-ranking people who believe that Kyrie is not this is not done. I don’t know. Yeah, let me just say this about the Lakers: He obviously was very interested in joining the Lakers, and the Lakers are very interested in having him. The problem is, is that the Lakers can’t really right now.
The Nets and Irving did come close to an agreement late last week, sources said, before talks stalled out. Sources said Irving had three potential opt-in-and-trade options available to pursue before making his final decision. Across the league, there are only five teams with projected salary-cap space: Detroit, San Antonio, Orlando, Indiana and New York, with all wanting to build around younger players or prioritizing other free agents. For their part, the Lakers were much more motivated to have Irving sign as a free agent than they were in acquiring the three-time All-NBA guard via trade, sources said. And as Irving went through his opt-in-and-trade options — as well as the potential of joining the Lakers in free agency — the decision to return to Brooklyn crystalized.
Irving’s agent, Shetellia Riley Irving, and the Nets front office held extensive and productive extension discussions over the past six days, with sources on both sides describing good-faith negotiations to reach a new deal. The Nets and Shetellia Riley Irving worked through various proposals, including a two-year max extension that included incentives based on games played as well as a four-year max that included two years guaranteed and triggers for years three and four based on the games played in years one and two, sources said. Irving showed a willingness to accept an incentive-based deal before a final counter was made to the Nets, according to sources: a short-term contract extension protecting both sides with a player option. Brooklyn declined.
Several teams are expected to continue to pursue Irving via trade, but his opt-in makes clubs consider more closely whether to trade assets in a deal for a player who will enter unrestricted free agency in 2023. Teams across the league understand Irving’s talent, and now a full season in 2022-23 allows him the opportunity to prove himself once again, then return to the market and earn a maximum contract next summer. Multiple sources with knowledge of his decision said Irving wants to prioritize winning a championship next season and show why he’s one of the best players in the league.