Blazers Say They’re Willing To Wait Months To Resolve Lillard Saga If Necessary

Jul 10, 2023, 5:31 PM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Damian Lillard wants to be traded to the Miami Heat. The Portland Trail Blazers know this yet haven’t abandoned hope that the seven-time All-Star changes his mind.

And whether he does or not, the Blazers insist that they’re in no hurry.

General manager Joe Cronin, at the news conference where the team unveiled its new five-year, $160 million contract with Jerami Grant, spoke at length about the impasse with Lillard. He offered no specifics on talks — not negotiating publicly — and revealed that he hasn’t spoken with Lillard since the franchise cornerstone asked to be traded.

“We’re going to be patient,” Cronin said Monday. “We’re going to do what’s best for our team. We’re going to see, you know, how this lands. And if it takes months, it takes months.”

Lillard’s trade request became publicly known on July 1, the first full day of free agency in the NBA. After the Blazers revealed that Lillard — who has spent all 11 of his pro seasons in Portland — asked out, agent Aaron Goodwin confirmed days later that the seven-time All-NBA selection wants to go to Miami.

“Dame’s position won’t change,” Goodwin told The Associated Press last week. “This entire situation was about building an opportunity for Portland to win or giving him another opportunity that he wants, which is Miami.”

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports.

The entire matter is complicated on so many levels — that the trade request became public, that Lillard wants to be traded only to Miami (he doesn’t have a no-trade clause, and Portland is under no obligation to honor that request), that he is beloved as an all-time great in Portland and that not having him on the roster simply means the team probably won’t have enough to truly compete in the loaded Western Conference.

RELATED: Utah Jazz Reportedly Interested In Trading For Damian Lillard

“As a team, you always hope that you have more options,” Cronin said. “To have limited options like that, I wouldn’t call it frustrating, but it prevents you from perhaps getting the best return. So, it’s something that we’ll have to work through.”

And in his eyes, there’s still hope that Lillard changes his mind — although there’s been no indication that will happen.

“I haven’t lost hope, just because I understand this league is complicated and things change very quickly sometimes,” Cronin said.

The Blazers have a core of young talent – Anfernee Simons just turned 24, Shaedon Sharpe is going into his second season after being the No. 7 pick in 2022 and point guard Scoot Henderson is entering the league as the No. 3 pick in this draft. Cronin said he gets why Lillard would look at the Blazers, as currently constructed, and feel like there isn’t a clear path to contending for a title this coming season.

“I could see why Dame would look at it and say, ‘Well, this isn’t a win-now opportunity, or at least as much of a win-now opportunity in some other places,’” Cronin said. “So, from that regard, I understand his position and I respect it and it makes sense to me why he would like to go elsewhere.”

But Cronin also believes that great days are coming for Simons, Sharpe and Henderson.

“Those guys are going to impact winning very soon in this league,” Cronin said.

Lillard is coming off a season in which he averaged 32.2 points for the Trail Blazers. He is a member of the NBA’s 75th anniversary team, but he has never been close to a title in his 11 seasons in the league.

He met with Portland multiple times, asking for the roster to be upgraded to the point where he can compete for a championship. But those efforts did not go to Lillard’s liking. And now, the trade watch is on.

“It’s just hard. How do you replace Damian Lillard? Who is the person in the marketplaces that is available that is a better player than Dame?” Cronin said. “No team more than us knows what this market looks like. We’ve been trying for 18 months to find the Dame equivalent at another position or someone that’s 80% of Dame, even. So, that’s the challenge and that’s why we’ve got to keep working.”

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Locals in the NBA

neemias queta boston celtics...

Brian Preece

Former Aggie Center Neemias Queta Inks New Deal With Boston Celtics

Neemias Queta signed a new deal with the Boston Celtics that converts the big man from a two-way deal to a standard contract. 

1 month ago

Sam Merrill Utah Jazz Cleveland Cavaliers...

Chandler Holt

Cavaliers Guard Sam Merrill Says Game In Utah Against Jazz Was Surreal

Current Cavaliers guard and former Utah State Aggie Sam Merrill joined the KSL Sports Zone to talk about his first NBA game back in Utah.

2 months ago


Kyle Ireland

Former Weber State Star Damian Lillard Wins NBA All-Star Game MVP

Former Weber State and current Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard received MVP honors for his performance in the 73rd NBA All-Star Game.

3 months ago


Kyle Ireland

Instant Replay: Damian Lillard Hits Half-Court Shot During NBA All-Star Game

Former Weber State guard Damian Lillard buried a shot from half-court during the second half of the 73rd NBA All-Star Game.

3 months ago


Kyle Ireland

Weber State Legend Damian Lillard Repeats As Three-Point Contest Champion

Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard defended his title by winning the 2024 Starry 3-Point Contest during NBA All-Star Weekend.

3 months ago

Delon Wright Washington Wizards Miami Heat...

Chandler Holt

Report: Former Utah Ute Delon Wright To Sign With Miami Heat

According to ESPN sources, Delon Wright plans to sign with the Miami Heat following contract buyout with Washington.

3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Give-A-Thon

The KSL Sports Zone, KSL 5 TV, FM100.3, 103.5 The Arrow, and KSL NewsRadio have teamed up to raise money for the kids being served by Primary Children’s Care!


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and KSLSports.com are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Blazers Say They’re Willing To Wait Months To Resolve Lillard Saga If Necessary