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Lillard still waiting, hoping that Summer League gives Blazers and Heat chance to talk trade

No waivering on where All-Star guard wants to play

By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer
Published: July 6, 2023, 5:51pm

LAS VEGAS — Damian Lillard’s position has not and will not change: The seven-time All-Star wants to be traded to the Miami Heat.

Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, confirmed that stance Thursday and said he hopes that the Portland Trail Blazers — the team that Lillard has spent the entirety of his 11-year NBA career with — can engage with the Heat on steps toward a deal in the coming days, especially with virtually everyone from the NBA gathering in Las Vegas for Summer League that starts on Friday.

The Trail Blazers publicly revealed this past weekend that Lillard had asked for a trade, an announcement that ended weeks of speculation about his future in Portland. Lillard had told the team that he wanted a chance to contend for a title; the Blazers have won only four playoff series in his 11 seasons and missed the playoffs in each of the last two years by wide margins.

“I’m hopeful that at least talks will initiate since they’re all going to be in one place,” Goodwin said. “That’s my hope.”

It will obviously take a significant package of players and picks to make any trade happen. Lillard will make almost $46 million this coming season and could make as much as $216 million over the next four years if he exercises his option for the 2026-27 season.

“The solution comes in Miami actually having a chance to sit down and talk with Portland,” Goodwin said. “I think if they can ever sit down and get in a room, there could be a deal to be made.”

Lillard averaged 32.2 points this past season, has averaged at least 24 points in each of the last eight seasons, and has an offensive ignitability that few players in the NBA possess.

He became just the seventh player in NBA history to score more than 70 points in a game when he finished with 71 against the Houston Rockets on Feb. 26. The other names on that list: Wilt Chamberlain (who did it five times), Kobe Bryant, David Thompson, David Robinson, Elgin Baylor and Donovan Mitchell.

All six of the other players on that list were between 23 and 28 when they had their games of 71 points or more; Lillard was 32, a clear indicator that — even after 11 NBA seasons — he’s far from past his prime.

The Heat are the reigning Eastern Conference champions, have been to the NBA Finals twice in the last four years and have been in the East finals three times in that span. They have been contenders, and Lillard — alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo — would only figure to make them even more of a title hopeful.

“Dame’s position won’t change,” Goodwin said. “This entire situation was about building an opportunity for Portland to win or giving him another opportunity that he wants, which is Miami.”

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