Damian Lillard has formally requested a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers, according to Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes. Lillard’s future with Portland has been a source of contention since the team failed to qualify for the playoffs. Lillard has made it obvious in recent weeks that he wants to compete for a title.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 1, 2023
Lillard’s deal will most certainly make finding interested trade partners tough. The 32-year-old is expected to make $45.6 million this season, $48.7 million the following season, $58.5 million the following season, and $63.2 million the following season.
Given his age, Lillard’s skills may begin to deteriorate before he becomes a free agent at the age of 37. Any team that trades for Lillard must ensure that it can offer the opportunity to compete for a championship despite taking on such a large cap burden. It’s also uncertain what kind of offer the Trail Blazers will entertain in any negotiations involving their All-Star guard.
Lillard averaged 32.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 7.3 assists in 58 regular-season games this season, shooting 46.3% from the field and 37.1% from three. With such high-level production, it’s safe to believe Lillard’s large deal won’t be a stumbling hurdle for clubs on the outside looking in.
Lillard will suddenly be the most desired player in the NBA. Teams like the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks are said to be interested in Lillard. Both teams have enough young players to make the Trail Blazers an attractive proposition.
The most reasonable path for Portland is to rebuild. Scoot Henderson was selected third overall in the 2022 NBA Draft by the Western Conference team, which also includes teenage shooting guard Anfernee Simons.
Trading Lillard allows the Trail Blazers to start stockpiling draft assets and young players. Portland has been planning a rebuild for several years, and it is now becoming a reality. However, on June 30, the Trail Blazers signed Jerami Grant to a five-year, $160 million contract. The franchise will now have to make another major decision. Grant is unlikely to want to spend his prime years on a rebuilding team.