NBA Rumors: Stalled trade talks may lead to Blazers, 76ers keeping stars

Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard NBA (0), Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard NBA (0), Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

We’re less than a month into NBA free agency, and we’ve already seen not one, but two NBA stars demand a trade. The Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard and the Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden have each requested to be traded to the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers, respectively.

Thus far, neither trade has materialized, and there are questions about whether either deal gets done. NBA free agency is at a standstill as the remaining free agents and other teams wait for the two blockbuster trades to go down. Once they do, things will quickly resume, but it has already taken longer than expected, casting doubt.

NBA Rumors: Are Lillard and Harden still locks to be traded?

Prior to Lillard’s trade request, the Blazers fully intended to bring him back next season, and that may still be their preferred option despite his wanting out. As for Harden, the Sixers aren’t going to find a better player and will need him if they hope to finally to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

If neither team really wants to trade their best player, then that may factor into how much they ask in return for them. Portland and Philadelphia both appear to be demanding a lot from the Heat and Clippers, but neither team has met those demands thus far.

The Heat are relatively limited in what they can offer, though they could trade three firsts, a pick swap, 2021 first-round pick Nikola Jovic, Duncan Robinson, and Kyle Lowry. They could offer more by trading Tyler Herro to a third team for a first-round pick and sending that to Portland as well, but they’ve yet to do so. Perhaps, with Lillard only wanting to play in Miami, the Heat are hoping that he can apply enough internal pressure to get the Blazers to settle for less in a deal.

Meanwhile, the Clippers seem reluctant to offer much for Harden, even though he’d improve their team. After giving up so much to trade for Paul George, the Clippers have limited assets and no titles to show for it. Therefore, they are probably being cautious, and they know another team is unlikely to outbid them.

After all, Harden has been known to cause problems for his teams when he checks out, so with no other teams interested in acquiring him, the Clippers might be able to wear down the Sixers. Then again, GM Darryl Morey isn’t easily worn down, as evidenced by the Ben Simmons trade. He’ll either trade him for the best possible return or convince him to stay.

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Ultimately, the longer that each trade negotiation, or lack thereof, goes on, the more likely Harden and Lillard are to stay put. If that were the case, both teams could wait until next season to move them or simply keep their stars.