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TRADE? Damian Lillard wants out of Portland … Are Nets interested in being a third team?

Chicago Bulls v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images

Damian Lillard’s decade-long loyalty to Portland and the Trail Blazers is over.

Both Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday that Lillard has asked for a trade. But in their latest tweets, it appears the Nets will NOT be among the most ardent suitors for the seven-time All-NBA selection despite various rumors that they had genuine interest.

Later Saturday, both Ian Begley and Chris Haynes reported that although the Nets are not interested in Lillard, they could play a role as the third team in a deal involving the Blazers and Heat. In the presumed scenario, the Nets would provide first round picks to help Miami acquire Lillard while the Nets would get Tyler Herro, the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2022...

“Look out for the Brooklyn Nets to be that third team,” said Haynes.

NetsDaily could not independently confirm the report.

Why the Nets lack of interest in Lillard? The question is where does Damian Lillard fit in the Nets scheme of things. It would seem that he doesn’t.

He’ll be 33 by next season, has missed 93 games over the past four years — 77 in the last two, and is owed more than $216 million on his current contract including a $62.3 million salary in 2026-27 when he’ll be 37. Moreover, Lillard has never gotten the Blazers further than the conference finals. And it should be noted that to get him the Nets would have to give up unprotected first round picks in the years after his mega-deal ends. Is that a wise move? In the NBA, pretty much nothing has a zero percent chance of success, but still...

indeed, in his story on ESPN, Woj doesn’t even mention Brooklyn, suggesting Miami is No. 1 on his list with the Clippers and 76ers 1A.

Lillard’s preference is to be traded to the Heat, a source told Andscape’s Marc J. Spears.

The Blazers are expected to value deals that would bring them back young players and draft assets.

Blazers GM Joe Cronin issued a statement Saturday afternoon expressing disappointment with Lillard’s request.

“We have been clear that we want Dame here but he notified us today he wants out and he’d prefer to play someplace else.” Cronin said, “What has not changed for us is that we’re committed to winning, and we are going to do what’s best for the team in pursuit of that goal.”

The groundswell of Brooklyn fan interest in Lillard’s next destination grew out of a June 7 interview with Brian Custer of Showtime who asked the Oakland product for potential destinations.

“Miami obviously,” said Lillard with a laugh in response to Custer’s question about which team he might like to join in a trade. “Miami is the obvious one and Bam (Adebayo) is my dawg. Bam is my dawg for real. But I think Miami is the obvious one. Brooklyn is another obvious one because Mikal Bridges is my dawg too and both are capable, have capable rosters.”

Lillard has previously called Bridges the best small forward in the NBA and Bridges returned the favor recently, calling Lillard “an unbelievable leader, unbelievable player. Everybody in the world knows that. He’d be key for anybody, any team he goes to.” But he pointedly did not push for Sean Marks & co. to make a deal.

In that same interview, Bridges also praised the Nets core.

“One hundred percent,” said Bridges, when asked about the Nets then current roster. “I like the team we have now going into the year, that’s without any moves.”

The Nets appear to feel the same way, so far making only incremental moves in the first 48 hours of free agency.