The Damian Lillard trade request has been one of the stories of the 2023 NBA offseason. After 12 seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, the star point guard would like to move on in pursuit of an NBA championship.
Specifically, he would like to be traded to the Miami Heat, as he has made clear on multiple occasions.
According to Shams Charania of the Athletic, Lillard is making his stance known to other teams. He says that although the Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics have interest in Lillard, his response to joining either team would be a "resounding no".
That being said, Lillard has a limited amount of leverage here. He does not have a no-trade clause, like Bradley Beal did, that could force him to his preferred destination. The Trail Blazers are ultimately in control of where Lillard ends up and what package they receive in return.
Still, Lillard has earned the respect of the Portland franchise by playing 12 seasons for the team and becoming arguably the greatest player in franchise history. The respect he has earned should make the front office at least consider honoring his wishes.
Additionally, it makes the path for Lillard to end up in a Celtics or Clippers uniform much more difficult. Lillard's agent has been pushing the agenda that any team other than the Heat would be trading for an "unhappy player".
Boston and Los Angeles could call his bluff and still make a move for the superstar guard. However, both teams already have a well-established championship core. Would it be worth the risk to break up their core for a player who might be unhappy playing for them?
The Celtics and Clippers will need to think about if they want to keep pursuing Lillard or back out of trade negotiations. It is worth noting that Dame has been one of the most loyal players in the league, spending 12 seasons with one franchise.
The one thing he is missing is a championship. If Boston or Los Angeles is able to bring his closer to winning a championship, his loyalty towards either franchise could follow.