By 750 The Game Staff
Things are heating up in the Damian Lillard sweepstakes, or so we think.
ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski gave an update on the Trail Blazers trade talks on Friday on NBA Today on ESPN.
“My sense is that the Blazers have done a lot more talking with teams in the last, say, 10-14 days than they did probably in at least a month-plus prior,” Adrian Wojnarowski said. “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.”
Training camp starts in a couple weeks, and Wojnarowski says that provides a natural benchmark to finally get a deal done. With so much attention on Portland and Miami since the trade request was made public, Woj says he won’t be surprised to see more teams come into the equation as trade talks progress to facilitate the Lillard-Heat marriage.
“I think Portland, what they’ve been trying to do, is see how they can put together multi-team deals that would get them the assets that they would want,” Woj said. “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.”
Trail Blazers training camp is approaching soon as the preseason begins Oct. 10th at Moda Center against the New Zealand Breakers.
Should Lillard remain on the Blazers roster through training camp, would he consider sitting out — and waiting out — the Trail Blazers, and force his way out?
Woj says the new NBA rules against teams resting stars makes that a more difficult strategy for Lillard.
“The idea that a player can just be parked away from the team, awaiting a trade, that’s not a scenario that’s acceptable anymore in the NBA,” Woj said. “I think a return of Damian Lillard to start the season – there are far less complications based on where the Blazers are in a rebuild, than say, James Harden in Philadelphia.”
Woj added things could get a little awkward between Lillard and the Blazers organization if and when he remains on the roster to start the year, but the two sides still expect to be cordial with each other throughout the process.
“I think both in Portland and around the league, people expect that it will be uncomfortable, it may be unpleasant, but it won’t be unprofessional,” Woj said. “If you bring back a player of Lillard’s stature who’s asked for a trade, you haven’t found it, that’s all your asking for, you could hope for, is professionalism. And I do think they believe they’re going to get that from Damian Lillard.”
“I think people expect, both in Portland and around the league, it will be uncomfortable, it may be unpleasant, but it won’t be unprofessional.”@wojespn on whether Damian Lillard will show up to Trail Blazers training camp if he’s not traded.pic.twitter.com/bCzzqibZjb
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) September 15, 2023