clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

New speculation about Damian Lillard trade and recurring need for a third team

With training camp only three weeks away, there’s finally momentum on a Damian Lillard trade. Do Nets still fit as a third team?

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Portland Trail Blazers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Is Woj speculating or is he working? That’s always the question when Adrian Wojnarowski offers a new twist to an old story. He did that Friday afternoon when he told Malika Andrews on ESPN’s NBA Today that there’s finally some movement in the Damian Lillard trade talks. Miami Momentum.

“My sense is that the Blazers have done a lot more talking with teams in the last say 10 to 14 days than they did probably in at least a month plus prior,” Woj said. “And a big part of that is the league is back to work now after Labor Day, and training camp is starting to approach. And that’s the next real deadline in this process.

“But I think Portland, what they’ve been trying to do, is see how they could put together multi-team deals that would get them the assets that they would want: draft picks, young players.

“There might be a team that their best asset is a veteran player that doesn’t interest the Blazers, but there’s a third team who might want to take on that veteran and then send whether it’s a young player or picks in part to Portland.

“So I think they’ve been in communication with a lot of teams trying to find a structure of a deal that can get them a Damian Lillard trade. We’ll see now how much traction they can get between now and the start of camp,” means the three weeks between now and October 3.

Did someone say “multi-team” trade? It’s been a given since Lillard first hinted at a trade to the Heat that the Blazers would need to find at least one additional team to facilitate a deal. Specifically, Portland wants more first round picks than Miami can deliver.

So, speculation was that the Heat would have to offer something — a young player — to a team with a lot of draft capital. And since the Nets have, according to more than one analysis, as good a stash of picks as any team, they have always been rumored as the likely third team. The most prevalent rumor had been that the Nets would give the Blazers a first or two and get back Tyler Herro, the 23-year-old guard. However, word is that Herro’s contract — four years at $120 million — is too rich for the Nets taste.

There was a singular report from Heat writer Ethan J. Skolnick back in early July that Brooklyn might be interested in Caleb Martin, the Heat’s 6’6” forward who played so well in Miami’s run to the Finals. Martin, 27, is owed $6.8 million next season with a $7.1 million player option in 2024-25. That might be more palatable for the luxury tax-conscious Nets organization. And don’t be surprised that teams will want Nikola Jovic, the 6’10”, 20-year-old small forward who played so well for Serbia in the FIBA World Cup.

Complicating things is Lillard’s on-again, off-again lobbying for a trade. On Thursday, he posted, then deleted this from Instagram...

To be clear, there are a lot of hurdles that have to be crossed to get to a happy place that would satisfy the Heat, the Blazers, Lillard as well as a third team. One of them is the NBA’s growing realization that with the new CBA, draft picks — particularly unprotected first rounders — are more valuable for super teams trying to manage their rosters and payrolls. The Nets also do not want to go over the luxury tax threshold which would guarantee that they would be in repeater tax hell through the 2025-26 season, an untenable situation for a team that at this point is retooling.

That said, Woj’s comments are often a sign post pointing to action just down the road.

Meanwhile, Zach Lowe was on his Lowe Post podcast. However, Lowe admitted he was speculating about a trade that would send Dorian Finney-Smith to Milwaukee in return for the Bucks’ 2029 unprotected first rounder. He suggested that DFS, who will make $13.4 million next season, is someone the Bucks might want to add to help them keep Giannis Antetokounmpo a happy camper. Antetokounmpo has said recently that his long-term loyalty to Milwaukee is dependent on the team committing to a championship.

“I’m looking at that pick and Grayson Allen’s expiring deal or Pat Connaughton ... or Grayson Allen and Bobby Portis,” he added. “And trying to find a $15 million to $20 million player who helps me more than those guys.” said Lowe who mentioned Finney-Smith as well as Bojan Bogdanovic and a couple of others who could help immediately.

Would the Nets be interested in either player? Another future pick? They have more than a few wings, after all.

The Nets already have three unprotected first round picks in the 2029 Draft, their own, the Mavericks and the Suns which CBS Sports identified as potentially the most valuable traded pick in the league. (They also three firsts in the 2027 Draft, their own, the unprotected Suns pick and the Sixers pick, protected 1-8.)

Still, the Bucks pick, if Milwaukee loses Antetokounmpo, could be even very valuable if left unprotected, Lowe suggested.

No one is saying anything is current and indeed superstar trades, even when rumored in the summer, can wait till the fall or winter. Ask Sean Marks. He’ll tell you.