- Damian Lillard could finally ask out of Portland after 11 seasons with the team
- The team missed the postseason for a second straight year in 2022-23
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Damian Lillard has not communicated with the Blazers ‘involving the draft, free agency, or his future,’ Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes reported after Thursday’s NBA Draft.
Lillard has been the subject of rampant trade rumors following yet another poor showing this season from Portland, who went just 33-49 despite a career-best 32.2 points per game from the star guard.
And Haynes’ report will only increase speculation that Lillard, who was drafted by the team in 2012, could finally ask out of Portland after the team selected Scoot Henderson with the No. 3 overall pick.
While Lillard remains a Blazer for now, fellow NBA reporter Marc Stein wrote before the draft that there was ‘legitimate concern percolating’ that Lillard could push for a trade if Portland used their No. 3 pick.
With Lillard turning 33 in July, the star guard understandably wants to avoid a rebuilding situation, and using the No. 3 pick for a more established player – like his ‘favorite small forward’ in the league’ Mikal Bridges – has been floated.
But the Nets don’t seem interested in parting with Bridges after turning down four first-round picks for him at the trade deadline, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported back in February.
If Lillard does push for a trade out of Portland, the Nets and Eastern Conference champions Heat look like the frontrunners to get him.
In an interview with Showtime earlier this month, Lillard named both teams as ‘obvious’ potential landing spots due to his relationships with Bridges and Miami center Bam Adebayo.
Lillard also works out with Bridges in the offseason, and the Nets would be well-positioned to land the Portland star after receiving a mammoth package from the Suns for Kevin Durant.
Brooklyn received four-first round picks from Phoenix for the star forward, and could also look to move the contracts of Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris.
Miami, meanwhile, owns their first-round pick next year, and could also package picks from 2028, 2029 or 2030 along with players like Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson to get a potential deal done.
Meanwhile, Henderson, expressed his excitement at joining the Blazers Thursday – and hopefully playing alongside a certain seven-time All-Star.
‘Yeah, I’m hoping to get to play with Dame, for sure,’ he said. ‘Special talent, special guard. One of my favorites to watch, especially film-wise. Just to pick out how he moves off the court, as well. Yeah, it would be cool to play with him.’
‘They’re getting a dog,’ Henderson added. ‘They’re getting a dog that’s gonna come in and be hungry.
‘I’m young, but I’ve got a mature mindset, and that’s to work and to come in and make a real impact, not just the basketball side, but the community. So they’re getting a special player, a special person.’