The countdown to the new NBA season is underway, with opening tip-off set for Oct. 24. While that date might be exciting for some teams, there are others who are surely feeling the pressure to make last-minute roster moves. None are faced with more urgency than the Portland Trail Blazers and Miami Heat.
Many fans believed that the two sides would have worked out a Damian Lillard trade by now, but the star point guard remains in Portland. With training camp fast approaching, talks for Lillard are ramping up again. But there is a caveat. They don't include the Heat.
“Those talks have intensified this week with Damian Lillard, but still there's no trade imminent… So far, the one element that has not been a part of these talks are the Miami Heat,” ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski told NBA Today on Friday.
"Those talks have intensified this week with Damian Lillard, but still there's no trade imminent… So far, the one element that has not been a part of these talks are the Miami Heat."@wojespn on where things stand on a potential Dame trade.pic.twitter.com/xheWPo8816
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) September 22, 2023
Try to keep calm, South Beach. Miami still has some leverage to wield. Portland will get battered by at least a few notable NBA talents if it does not deal the franchise great to his preferred destination. Obviously, the organization's top priority is to set itself up for the best future possible, but potential free agents might be turned off if the Blazers go their own way.
It has been crystal clear from the moment Lillard requested a trade early in the offseason that he wants to join the Heat. Although Pat Riley often finds a way to make magic happen, Portland is just not interested in Miami's trade package. ESPN's Brian Windhorst believes the reigning Eastern Conference champions are not going to bend backwards to appease the Blazers.
“I don't think the Heat are desperate at all to trade for Damian Lillard… I don't think that the Heat and Trail Blazers have been engaged in talks at all on almost any level for quite some time. That could change very quickly,” he said, also on NBA Today.
As Wojnarowski notes, though, there is still time for the Heat to reenter the conversation. It is possible these teams the Blazers are engaged with could just be an extra dance partner that stills serves the purpose of getting Damian Lillard to Miami in the end.
But Riley and company will need to pick up the phone soon if they are to pull off this blockbuster and end this long, long saga for good.