The NBA’s strong message to Lillard clears path for a major trade

Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard‘s trade request has caused free agency to grind to a halt. After requesting to be traded to the Miami Heat and having his agent Aaron Goodwin tell other NBA teams not to try to acquire him, the Blazers have attempted to extract more assets from Miami.

Thus far, Miami has been unwilling or unable to meet Portland’s demands, leading to a stalemate that has affected other free agents while the rest of the NBA waits for the trade to happen. Fortunately, the NBA just released a statement, which could lead to Lillard being moved.

In the statement, the NBA made clear that if Lillard or his agent privately or publicly make additional comments about not playing for another team that attempts to trade for him, Lillard would be subject to discipline by the league.

"We have advised Goodwin and Lillard that any future comments, made privately to teams or publicly, suggesting Lillard will not fully perform the services called for under his player contract in the event of a trade will subject Lillard to discipline by the NBA."

Lillard himself reiterated that he would honor his contract, which has four years remaining, including a player option. ESPN’s Bobby Marks clarified how much he would stand to lose were he to be disciplined by the NBA.

The NBA’s statement could get things moving on the Lillard front.

With Lillard promising to honor his contract and unable to dissuade teams from trading for him, the Heat may soon have competition from another team that is willing to meet Portland’s demands.

Thus far, the Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz, and San Antonio Spurs have been rumored as potential suitors for Lillard. Whether this release by the NBA gets any of those teams to prepare a serious offer remains to be seen, but the Blazers should hope so.

After all, it would give them even more leverage in trade negotiations over the Heat. If, say, the Nets get involved, then Portland could use that offer to try and force Miami to offer even more. Of course, now another team could actually acquire Lillard, which would be a big blow to the Heat. Miami has let two starters walk, and they would have a surprisingly thin roster without him.

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Ultimately, the NBA’s release should open things up and hopefully get things moving on the Lillard front. However, it’s anyone’s guess when a trade happens or where he will be moved.