After a spate of stories that included Damian Lillard identifying the Heat and Nets as possible landing spots IF he were to move on from Portland and Lillard “clearing the air” on his future, not to mention wild trade speculation, things have cooled down. Lillard has said that he prefers to stay in the Rose City.
On Wednesday, Brian Windhorst, who had the best reporting record during the Nets various crises last season, says do not expect Lillard to be moved before the opening of the season but offered a caveat...
“Not at the start of the season, I don’t believe, as of right now,” he said when asked if he thought Lillard would be anyplace other than Portland. “They publicly haven’t sounded like they want to trade him. I can tell you privately the Blazers aren’t interested in trading him right now either. I have to underline ‘right now’ because we’re in a fluid situation.
“Dame Lillard really was as strong as he’s ever been about what he wants in the direction of the team at the end of the season when he basically, essentially said he didn’t want to wait for any more developmental plays because the Blazers have — the ‘tanking’ word is a difficult word to use — but they’ve kind of tanked the last couple of years for draft position. I think while Shaedon Sharpe, their first round pick last year has excellent upside, at age 33, Dame made it clear that he was looking for players to come and immediately help them. So the Blazers are kind of put on that timeline.”
“I am hearing nothing. Nothing from the Dame side. Nothing from the Blazers’ side formally that he doesn’t want to be there. I don’t see [a Lillard trade] happening right now.”
“Right now,” the phrase Windhorst used four times, is key of course and Windhorst said we all have a better idea on Draft Night a week from now. Lillard also said if the Blazers don’t look like they’re in contention mode, he and Portland will have to a “serious conversation.”
Windhorst also said he expects there to be a lot of action on Draft Night with multiple teams either trying to move up or trade their picks for immediate help, saying he has no confidence in what the top 10 in the Draft will look like when things clear next Thursday at Barclays Center.
On Thursday, Windhorst’s colleague, Adrian Wojnarowski, speaking with The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo, said he doesn’t see a deal for the Blazers’ No. 3 overall pick.
“I don’t know that there’s a player out there that justifies moving the 3rd pick. I don’t know that they see it out there right now… Right now, a week out from the draft, I think they’re using that third pick on a player.”