Damian Lillard has asked for a trade away from the Portland Trail Blazers. After 11 seasons with one franchise, the 32-year-old has decided he wants to move away to chase a title instead of go through another rebuild. That is absolutely his right. But people claiming Portland should accommodate him by trading him to the team of his choice are being ridiculous.
Lillard has been incredible for the Blazers since they selected him with the sixth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft out of Weber State. He's a seven-time All-Star, was the Rookie of the Year in 2012, has made seven All-NBA teams (one first team, four second, two third) and was named to the NBA's 75th Anniversary team. He's been amazing. That doesn't mean he can hold his franchise hostage.
Many are pointing out how Lillard has been "loyal" to the Blazers during his career, and I guess that's true. But he's agreed to contracts with the team and played for them. Is that really displaying peak loyalty? We're supposed to give him immense credit for not demanding a trade sooner? I appreciate that Lillard has stayed with one team for his entire career, but it's not like he was taking discounts to do so.
Lillard has stayed in Portland and has been well-compensated for it. In his 11 seasons with the franchise, the Blazers have paid Lillard $233.7 million. And they had agreed to pay him more than $94 million more over the next two seasons as part of a four-year, $176 million contract extension. On top of that, the Blazers gave him another two-year max extension last offseason that runs through 2027, and he'll made $58.5 million in 2025-26 while holding a player option of $63.2 million for the 2026-27 season. Which means if he'd stayed in Portland, the franchise would have given him $450 million over 15 seasons. I'm sorry for not weeping for Dame's struggle in the City of Roses.
While the Blazers can try to send Lillard to a team of his choice, they have no obligation to give him up for pennies on the dollar. He doesn't have a no-trade clause and they have the right to demand a deal that benefits them long-term. Lillard's stated preference is to go to the Miami Heat. Well, if Miami can't provide Portland with what it wants in return, the team doesn't have to send Lillard there.
The Blazers reportedly want young players, picks and salary cap flexibility in return for Lillard. So they're not going to take on bad contracts and a few picks in return for one of the best players in franchise history. Just like Lillard has the right to demand a trade, Portland has the right to extract as much as it can as a possible return.
As it currently stands, the Heat can offer Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and a bunch of first-round picks that will presumably be in the mid 20s. That ain't much. Miami is said to want to hold on to Caleb Martin and hasn't budged on that.
If Lillard is going to wind up in Miami, a deal will almost certainly have to involve a third team. And Portland has no reason to waver from that stance.