Damian Lillard has repeatedly stated that he wants to compete for championships. After 11 years in Portland, they’ve decided they need to move somewhere else to make this happen.
Two people familiar with the matter said Saturday that Lillard asked the Trail Blazers for a trade, a move that would end the seven-time All-Star’s tenure with that team. The team later confirmed that Lillard had made the request.
“We have been clear that we want Demme here, but he informed us today that he wants to move out and would prefer to play elsewhere,” Portland general manager Joe Cronin said in a team statement on Saturday. “What hasn’t changed for us is that we are determined to win, and we are going to do what is best for the team to achieve that goal.”
Portland Trail Blazers GM Joe Cronin issued statement on Damian Lillard: “We’ve been clear that we want Damian here but he informed us today that he wants to move out and would prefer to play elsewhere. What hasn’t changed is that we are determined to win, and we are going to do that…
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) 1 July 2023
Lillard is drawing interest from the Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers, among others. multiple reports per, One of the people told The Associated Press that Lillard’s priority is Miami — the defending Eastern Conference champions — though that hardly guarantees the Trail Blazers will work to facilitate that specific move.
Lillard is coming off a season in which he averaged 32.2 points for the Trail Blazers. He’s a seven-time All-NBA selector and was selected to the NBA’s 75th anniversary team – but he’s never been close to a title in his 11 seasons in the league.
He has met with Portland several times in recent weeks and asked to upgrade the roster to a point where it can compete for a championship. But these efforts, apparently, did not go down well with Lillard and he was asked to transfer.
His decision was revealed on the second day of NBA free agency, when Portland pulled off a major deal on the first night, retaining Jeremy Grant on a reportedly $160 million, five-year deal.
As impressive as Lillard’s resume is, he hasn’t had that much success season after season. The Blazers have won only four playoff series in their 11 seasons, and have made it to the Western Conference Finals once during that span. The team went 33–49 last season, the second consecutive year of finishing well out of the playoff picture.
Lillard became the all-time leading scorer in Blazers history, surpassing Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler in a December 19 game at Oklahoma City. He is the only player in franchise history with seven All-NBA honors and one of three players with the Trail Blazers (2017–18) to be named to the All-NBA first team. He is a seven-time All-Star, the 2012–13 KIA Rookie of the Year, and a member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.
He also won the Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Games with Miami’s Bam Adebayo and spoke about how much he enjoyed playing with the Heat centre.
In addition to being the Blazers’ top scorer, Lillard is also No. 1 in 3-pointers made and attempted by a wide margin, as well as Portland’s all-time leader in free throws and free throw percentage. He ranks in the top five on the team in games played (769), assists (5,151) and field goals (6,281) and attempts (14,299).
Lillard, by any measure, is a dynamic player. He has averaged at least 24 points per game in each of the past eight seasons, and his career average of 25.2 ppg is fourth among active players (with at least 375 games) behind Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid and LeBron James. is in place. If that list were to be expanded to all players with no minimum games, Luka Doncic, Zion Williamson, and Trey Young would also be ahead of Lillard.
The only glaring omission in Lillard’s resume is a championship. And now he’ll take any action to change that.
“I would say that I want to be remembered for what I was, not as a player, but for the principles that I stood by, no matter how successful I was, how big a failure, how much criticism, What people think I should have done, what people think about me… No matter what happens, I want to be remembered for who I was,” Lillard said earlier this year. “I stood my ground. I stood my ground, and I want to be remembered for that,” he said in an interview with former teammate Evan Turner for the “Point Forward” podcast.
It would need some team — whether it be Miami, Brooklyn or someone else — to persuade Portland to trade with Lillard — possibly a large group of both players and draft picks. He will earn around $46 million this upcoming season and could earn up to $216 million over the next four years if he exercises his option for the 2026-27 season.
While Lillard was beloved in Portland, there was speculation about his future with the team when the Blazers took point guard Scooter Henderson with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft instead of a pick package for a proven star.
In an interview with Blazers.com’s Casey Holdahl the day after the 2023 draft, Cronin was asked if the franchise was in danger of losing Lillard and said the following:
“No, I’m not. I think Dem wants to win badly enough and he’s probably being more vocal about it than ever but I don’t see it as a negative. I look at it because he’s passionate about it, it matters deeply to him and it matters deeply to us. I bet you haven’t seen our major issueers or you still see Dame in our gym every day or still see (coach) Chauncey (Billaups) and me constantly, cause he wants to Let us work He’s bought in, he wants it to work here and he’s challenging us to deliver, which I think is more than fair and he’s earned it.
The Blazers signed Henderson to a rookie contract on Saturday. The 6-foot-2 teenager who has been compared to Russell Westbrook spent the past two seasons with the NBA G League Ignite.
Last season with the Ignite, Henderson averaged 17.6 ppg and a team-high 6.5 apg. He played in Marietta, Ga., becoming the youngest player ever in the G League. K graduated early from high school.
This report used information from The Associated Press.