Damian Lillard wants to be traded to the Miami Heat, but Portland is calling around the entire league looking for a third team and all kinds of rumors about a third team are floating around. (The question shouldn’t be “Is Toronto interested?” but rather “Is Toronto interested enough to make a serious offer, or is this just another lowball?”)
The Golden State Warriors are not one of those teams. Which is good, because Lillard doesn’t want to go there anyway, he said on “It Is What It Is” with Cam’ron and Ma$e.
“As far as like Golden State, I respect what they’ve been doing over the last eight, nine years or whatever and I’m from there obviously. That’s home. But I can’t be a part of that. They’ve won four championships… Like what I look like going to try to do that and say oh I’m joining my home team. Like no. It’s somebody that played my position that’s behind LeBron the best player of this era. It don’t even make sense. I never do nothing like that. I lose every year before I go.”
You have to respect Lillard’s “I want to have to work for it” attitude. A lot of fans may want to compare this to Kevin Durant joining the Warriors back in 2016, but it’s a different player at a different point in his career and the Warriors were in a different place, too. Also, you can be sure the backlash Durant saw from that move partially influences Lillard’s thinking here.
Lillard not wanting to go to the Warriors is also moot — there are numerous reasons the Warriors would not trade for him anyway. Golden State is kind of set at point guard with Stephen Curry, and they don’t need another guard who is elite offensively but a target defensively. The Warriors are already going to set a record for the largest team payroll and tax payment in league history this season, they don’t want to add four years and $216 million guaranteed to their payroll going forward. Portland wants picks and young players back for Lillard and the Warriors would struggle to tempt them with Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.
Conversations around a Lillard trade have picked up steam again in the past couple of weeks, but the market remains limited for the 33-year-old and expensive Lillard. Teams are not throwing big offers at Portland and the Blazers are not seeing anything anywhere near what they want for the All-NBA guard. Which eventually likely brings the conversation back to the Heat, who actually do want Lillard and have put a respectable offer forward (despite what some Portland fans would have you believe it is respectable; whether the Trail Blazers front office likes that offer is a different question).
This still feels like a trade that gets done before training camp opens, or near the start of it. That’s what makes the most sense for everyone. It’s just a matter of price negotiations, and if/when a third team jumps in the mix.
That team will not be the Golden State Warriors, and Lillard is happy about that.