Why Blazers GM Joe Cronin Has No Reason To Do A Favor For Miami Heat


While reports say Damian Lillard unequivocally prefers being traded to the Miami Heat after asking out of Portland over the weekend, it is worth considering the motivation of Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin to accommodate Lillard’s wishes.

Bill Simmons and Ryen Russillo of The Ringer tore off a few chunks of the Lillard trade market topic on Bill’s podcast episode from Sunday night, and had the same question.

“You’re going to lose this trade no matter what you do,” Russillo reasoned on what Portland could get back in a Lillard trade.

Russillo said the package Miami could offer Portland in a direct trade just don’t pose enough advantages for the Blazers. Miami would likely center a package around guards Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson, forward Nikola Jovic and a couple future first-round picks.

“The Heat part of it — I know they don’t care about the (Dame) contract or anything and it makes sense — but Herro’s money at $27 Million a year going out a few more years, Duncan Robinson at $18 and then $19-1/2 Million, I mean, unless you absolutely f—- love Jovic, which I have a hard time believing you’re like, ‘ok well at least we get Jovic in this thing,’ and then a couple of firsts from a team that’s usually pretty well run…

“If I’m Cronin, I’m like I need at least one thing that I feel good about that’s coming back.”

The lack of quality from a Miami trade package has increasingly turned the conversation around a Lillard deal to include a third team, and possibly more. Russillo acknowledged that will likely be the method that sends Dame to South Beach.

“It may still well be Miami,” Russillo said. “The lessons that we’ve all learned in this league plenty of times, too, when we’re like ‘that doesn’t make any sense, that couldn’t happen,’ and then it happens because the player does end up finding a way to get his way. I just wonder what that third team thing is.”

Lillard is arguably the greatest player in franchise history. But now that he has officially requested a trade after securing massive money that will pay him an average of $60 Million a year in 2025-26 and 2026-27, does Joe Cronin have to give in to his outgoing star’s wishes?

Russillo says if it means just agreeing to a two-team deal with the Heat and coming up short on potential value on Lillard, then absolutely not.

“Straight up the Herro contract, and that kind of stuff, just two teams, I don’t know how that matches up. What’s the urgency if you’re Cronin? ‘Hey, let me just do Miami this massive favor.’ Really?”

Simmons said that would be an “insane” move for Portland to make, adding the expiring contract of Kyle Lowry could be part of the Heat’s trade offer but still wouldn’t make enough of a difference.

Simmons also offered a few three-team mock trades involving Lillard that could get the soon-to-be former Blazers star to Miami, or to Simmons’ favorite team, the Boston Celtics.

But regardless of destination, the timeline of trading Lillard also brings Cronin’s motivation into focus. Could he get more value for his star by waiting to deal him until the season starts, or beyond?

Simmons thinks so.

“There’s way better stuff out there,” he said later in the episode. “And it’s also, like who knows, when we get to December/January, who knows who is going to be desperate. I just would not trade him now.”







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