The Damian Lillard trade rumors are heating up, despite his apparent attempts at making them go away.
Early this month, there were reports of Lillard planning to submit a formal trade request in the near future. But the Trail Blazers guard publicly refuted those rumors days later, instead insisting he wants Portland to be “more urgent” in improving its roster.
However, Lillard did leave things on somewhat of a cliffhanger, and rumors of an imminent trade request have persisted.
That brings us to Tuesday morning, when Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer offered this nugget on the Lillard situation:
Few team executives expect a Dame deal to happen this offseason. But multiple front-office sources say the Heat, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, and Sixers have recently been the most aggressive suitors.
Front-office executives say that if the Blazers eventually move Lillard, they can expect a return rivaling or surpassing what the Nets gave up for James Harden: multiple young players, plus three first-round picks and four first-round pick swaps. Harden is a former MVP, but he had only two guaranteed seasons left on his contract at the time of the trade. Portland could do even better because Lillard has four seasons remaining on his contract worth a grand total of $176 million. The long-term security in Lillard?s contract could lead to more interest from teams and more return in a trade.
Depending on the destination, a Lillard trade could alter the balance of power in the NBA.
A six-time All-Star, Lillard averaged 24.7 points per game while shooting 38 percent from three-point range over his first nine seasons, all spent with the Blazers. The Weber State product turned 31 years old on July 15.