This is the time of year when NBA executives head out on vacation for a few weeks, scattering across the globe because, for most teams, the job of roster building for next season is largely done.
It’s not for Portland or Miami as the Damian Lillard trade request — specifically to go to the Heat — hangs out there. That’s not stopping the vacations, but there appears to be a growing frustration from the Miami side trying to figure out exactly what Portland wants back in a trade. Here is Bleacher Report/TNT’s Chris Haynes talking on This League Uncut podcast with Marc Stein about the situation:
“Obviously the Miami Heat they’re a bit frustrated with how things are moving along slowly. Portland is telling them to, ‘Bring us your best offer.’ Miami would like to know what does Portland want and Miami is not getting that answer. And so they feel like things could be moving on a little bit quicker if Portland would say exactly what it is they want. Because obviously, Miami doesn’t have all the assets that Portland would want in a return for a Damian little trade. So they want to know, okay, what do we have to get out there? What other teams what other teams do we have to get involved to make this work? And so far, the communication is just not there…
That sentiment was echoed by Heat beat reporter Anthony Chiang on the Heat Check podcast.
“Right now, it just seems like this is gonna take a while. Someone even told me which I thought was interesting, and I don’t know if I buy it 100%, but someone told me that has some knowledge of kind of what’s going on, they’re not even convinced Portland wants to trade Damian Lillard at this point, like it almost feels like they’re trying to find a way to like, maybe change his mind or it just takes a while and delay this and see if Damian’s like ‘Well, I’ll be part of this’. So a lot of weird things going on.”
That report clearly comes from a frustrated Heat source — Lillard is not changing his mind at this point and everyone knows it — but it speaks to Miami’s mindset with this process. Miami wanted to get it done, but now everyone is heading on vacation.
Portland reportedly wants four good first-round picks and a couple of quality players back in a trade. They will have to lower that standard and compromise — there isn’t that market out there for Lillard. The Donovan Mitchell trade package is not coming. While Lillard is an All-NBA player who averaged 32.2 points per game last season, he’s also 33 years old with four years and $216.2 million left on his contract — including paying him more than $63 million the final season. Teams are balking at that price tag and years (for example, the Knicks are not trying to get into the conversation, although Jalen Brunson has something to do with that). The Heat are willing to engage a third team, but they want more details from Portland, while the Trail Blazers seem happy to slow-play this.
Miami’s best offer is something like Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, up to three first-round picks, and young first-rounders Nikola Jovic and Jaime Jaquez Jr. That doesn’t thrill Portland, in part because they have Anfernee Simons, a similar player on a similar contract to Herro. That’s where the third team to take Herro and maybe put another pick into the mix comes into play. So far, nothing has come close to coming together.
Similar to the James Harden situation, it will be closer to training camp, when there is pressure on both sides, before we see real negotiations. This is likely a late September or October trade. That may frustrate the Heat.
They just shouldn’t let it ruin their vacations.