Blazers reportedly celebrated and felt relieved after preventing Damian Lillard’s trade to Heat


Damian Lillard’s trade request this offseason that saw him target the Miami Heat put the Portland Trail Blazers front office between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, Lillard had been a loyal player since he was drafted, however, on the other hand, the Miami Heat didn’t have a package the Blazers found suitable. As such, the two sides found themselves at an impasse that lasted months.

Throughout the uncertainty of the offseason, Portland’s front office remained patient, allowing things to play out before spontaneously jumping into a deal. Despite that, there was pressure from the veteran guard to land in Miami, something Joe Cronin and his staff weren’t eager to allow.

When it was clear that the Blazers and Heat weren’t going to reach an agreement, Damian Lillard walked back the trade request, stating that he would return to Portland. According to reports, Cronin wasn’t able to let that happen either.

After a trade finally materialized this week, the Blazers front officer reportedly celebrated the fact that they avoided sending Dame to Miami. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:

“There was a spontaneous mixture of celebration and relief in the Blazers’ conference room. Portland hadn’t delivered the greatest player in franchise history to Miami, but they did give Lillard a co-starring role with Antetokounmpo that instantaneously made Milwaukee a championship favorite.

“They believed they had done right by Lillard, and had nothing for which to apologize.”

How Joe Cronin took inspiration from previous trades when navigating Damian Lillard’s deal?

Throughout the offseason, it appeared as though Damian Lillard had no plans of playing anywhere other than Miami next season. While there was no unwritten rule that stated the team had to abide by his request, reports indicated his agent made other teams aware that acquiring Dame would be acquiring an unhappy player.

As such, the two sides remained at a standoff, with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver weighing in on Damian Lillard and James Harden’s offseason trade requests. As he explained, he wasn’t happy about players trying to force their way to certain teams.

Despite that, there was no progress made regarding a deal, and as such, Joe Cronin and the Trail Blazers did the only thing they could do: Be patient. According to Woj, Cronin did a deep dive into the Kevin Durant trade to Phoenix, and Ben Simmons trade to Brooklyn.

In doing so, he learned that the key to both trades was patience. His plan to use the late-summer months to work on a trade ahead of training camps paid off, with the Bucks landing Lillard in a multi-team blockbuster deal.

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Edited by Tejas Rathi
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