The NBA informed all 30 teams that they interviewed Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard and his agent, Aaron Goodwin, about Lillard’s stance he only wants to play for the Miami Heat, league sources confirmed to The Athletic on Friday. Here’s what you need to know:
- The league advised Lillard and Goodwin that any future comments “suggesting Lillard will not fully perform the services called for under his player contract in the event of a trade” will be subject to discipline, as will be any similar comments by players or agents moving forward.
- Lillard requested to be traded from the Trail Blazers to only the Heat on July 1.
- The seven-time All-Star averaged a career-best 32.2 points per game last season to go along with 7.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds through 58 games.
What is in the memo?
The full NBA memo, which The Athletic obtained:
“Recent media reports stated that Damian Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, called multiple NBA teams to warn them against trading for Lillard because Lillard’s only desired trade destination is Miami. Goodwin also made public comments indicating that Lillard would not fully perform the services called for under his player contract if traded to another team.
“We interviewed Goodwin and Lillard and also spoke with several NBA teams to whom Goodwin spoke. Goodwin denied stating or indicating to any team that Lillard would refuse to play for them. Goodwin and Lillard affirmed to us that Lillard would fully perform the services called for under his player contract in any trade scenario. The relevant teams provided descriptions of their communications with Goodwin that were mostly, though not entirely, consistent with Goodwin’s statements to us.
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
What does this mean for Portland?
This likely emboldens the Blazers’ stance that they will search for the best deal for the franchise, and won’t be pigeonholed by a one-team trade demand. While Blazers general manager Joe Cronin has immense respect and affinity for Lillard, and while he also has a track record of trying to work with players to find favorable landing spots (CJ McCollum, Josh Hart), he has made clear he won’t lose leverage and get fleeced in a deal because of Lillard’s ultimatum.
If Cronin had his wish, he would like to keep Lillard in Portland, but if that ship has sailed, he has said his next priority is doing right by the Blazers. This memo essentially shows the league backs Portland’s stance that there should be open bidding for the star’s rights, while also warning other players and agents that this tactic won’t be tolerated. — Quick
In 2022-23, Lillard, who turned 33 on July 16, finished with career-highs in points per game (32.2), field goal percentage (46.3), free throws attempted per game (9.6), 3-pointers made (4.2) and attempted (11.3) per game.
The 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year has spent all 11 seasons of his career with Portland. The Trail Blazers selected Lillard with the No. 6 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and finished 33-49 last season.
NBA sent a memo Friday to all 30 teams about Damian Lillard’s trade request and the stance that he only wants to play in Miami. Reporting details on @TheRally: pic.twitter.com/xkgMfcTeqI
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 28, 2023
(Photo: Sam Forencich / NBAE via Getty Images)