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NBA star Lillard wants trade, prefers deal to Miami — reports

By AFP - Jul 03,2023 - Last updated at Jul 03,2023

NEW YORK — Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has requested a trade and the seven-time NBA All-Star guard prefers a deal to the Miami Heat, according to multiple reports on Saturday.

Lillard, who turns 33 on July 15, is due $204 million over the next four years. He has spent all 11 of his NBA campaigns with Portland but has gone past the second round only once in eight trips to the playoffs.

Lillard’s request was reported by ESPN and The Athletic with the Miami Herald also reporting Lillard wants only the Heat, being a close friend of Heat star Bam Adebayo and having respect for playmaker Jimmy Butler.

Butler and Adebayo were keys in the Heat making a run from the play-in games to the NBA Finals last month, where Miami lost to the Denver Nuggets.

Lillard averaged a career-high 32.2 points and 7.3 assists and matched a career-best by shooting 46.3 per cent over 58 games last season. He would be the largest point scorer in NBA history to swap teams for the next campaign, ESPN reported.

Portland finished 33-49 and missed the playoffs for the second season in a row.

The Trail Blazers are expected to want young talent and draft picks in exchange from any team interested in Lillard. Those with salary cap room to make the deal include the Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets.

Players on the Heat who could be moved in exchange likely include guards Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro and forward Duncan Robinson.

Another talented guard in a similar situation is Philadelphia’s James Harden, a three-time NBA scoring champion who opted in on a one-year deal and also seeks a trade.

Lillard’s requested move was revealed only hours after the start of NBA free agency for the 2023-24 season.

Talks were allowed to begin on Friday but no contracts can be signed until next Thursday, leaving only unconfirmed reports to signal the flow of talent around the NBA as dozens of deals were said to have been agreed upon by clubs and available players.

Among those deals was Portland’s pact with forward Jerami Grant on a five-year deal worth $160 million, ESPN and The Athletic said.

Fred VanVleet, a 29-year-old point guard who helped Toronto win the 2019 crown, is going to Houston on a three-year deal worth $130 million.

But centre Brook Lopez has agreed to a two-year deal worth $48 million to stay with the Bucks. He was among Houston’s reported targets.

The Bucks, the 2021 NBA champions, reportedly agreed to a three-year deal on Friday with forward Khris Middleton.

Keeping both players should help ensure the Bucks also keep Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who could become a free agent in 2025.

Houston made a four-year deal worth $80 million with Canadian swingman Dillon Brooks, dropped by Memphis after calling LeBron James “old” before his Los Angeles Lakers beat Memphis in six games in the play-offs.

Houston also agreed to a four-year deal worth $32 million with centre Jock Landle.

The Lakers will reportedly keep guard D’Angelo Russell on a two-year deal worth $37 million while the Clippers keep Russell Westbrook with a two-year deal.

 

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