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NBA sends letter to all teams about Blazers’ Lillard and Miami Heat

League gives warning over what’s being said

By BARRY JACKSON, Miami Herald
Published: July 28, 2023, 5:05pm

MIAMI — Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has never said publicly that he wants to be traded and that he wants to be traded only to the Heat.

But his agent, Aaron Goodwin, has said that, and that isn’t sitting well with the league.

According to a source, the NBA sent a memo regarding Lillard to all 30 NBA general managers on Friday. The letter, obtained by the Miami Herald, says this:

“Recent media reports stated that Damian Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, called multiple NBA teams to warn them against trading for Lillard because Lillard’s only desired trade destination is Miami. Goodwin also made public comments indicating that Lillard would not fully perform the services called for under his player contract if traded to another team.

“We interviewed Goodwin and Lillard and also spoke with several NBA teams to whom Goodwin spoke. Goodwin denied stating or indicating to any team that Lillard would refuse to play for them. Goodwin and Lillard affirmed to us that Lillard would fully perform the services called for under his player contract in any trade scenario. The relevant teams provided descriptions of their communications with Goodwin that were mostly, though not entirely, consistent with Goodwin’s statements to us.

“We have advised Goodwin and Lillard that any future comments, made privately to teams or publicly, suggesting Lillard will not fully perform the services called for under his player contract in the event of a trade will subject Lillard to discipline by the NBA. We also have advised the Players Association that any similar comments by players or their agents will be subject to discipline going forward.”

The letter was sent by Dan Rube, the NBA’s executive vice president and deputy general counsel.

Section 18 of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement said “any player (or, for clarity, any player representative or person acting with authority on behalf of a player) who publicly expresses a desire to be traded to another Team shall be subject to a fine and/or a suspension.

“The maximum fine that may be imposed by the NBA or a player pursuant to the foregoing shall be $150,000.”

Immediately after Lillard requested a trade on July 1, several media outlets — including the Miami Herald — cited sources in reporting that Lillard wanted to play only for the Heat.

Goodwin, in his first public comments on the matter, told The Miami Herald on July 6: “Truthfully, he wants to play in Miami. Period.”

Goodwin subsequently made similar comments to others.

Also that day, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Goodwin had warned teams (other than the Heat) that they will be getting an unhappy player if they acquire Lillard.

“I do what I should for my client. Some teams I did call. Other teams have called me,” Goodwin told The Miami Herald on July 6. “It’s a respectful relationship with most teams.

But warning teams that they will get an unhappy player is different from telling a team not to trade for his client.

Blazers general manager Joe Cronin has not said whether he will accommodate Lillard’s request to be traded only to the Heat but has said that if the process takes months, he’s willing to wait that long.

Portland has been unmotivated to engage the Heat in serious, sustained trade discussions, according to a source.

And Lillard thus far has declined to apply pressure on the Blazers publicly. He now faces an NBA fine if he does so publicly.

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