A new pair of teams have entered the Damian Lillard saga.
The Bulls and Raptors are believed to have engaged the Trail Blazers in trade talks for the superstar point guard, according to a report from Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer.
The Heat, who have long been Lillard’s preferred destination, have not had recent dialogue with the Blazers, per Fischer, but are expected to get involved before a deal with another team is made.
Fischer also floated the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz as potential participants in a three-team Lillard deal, including a possible trade involving the Suns’ Deandre Ayton going to the Blazers and Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic going to Phoenix.
The rumors mark yet more episodes in what has been a months-long stalemate between the Trail Blazers and Lillard.
The seven-time All-Star and All-NBA player officially requested a trade from Portland on July 1 — the start of NBA free agency — after years of stating his desire to stay with the Trail Blazers, the only team he has played for over 11 NBA seasons.
But after years of playoff disappointments and inability to build a championship contender around the 33-year-old, and the organization’s decision to use the No. 3 overall selection in the 2023 NBA Draft on point guard Scoot Henderson rather than trade for an established player, Lillard asked out.
Lillard confirmed last month that he submitted a trade request to Portland and that he wants to go to Miami.
“I’m not going to speak on the Blazers,” Lillard told Andscape. “It’s a lot of love and respect, but I won’t speak on the Blazers … I can say that there was [a trade request to the Heat], and I would just prefer not to speak on the Trail Blazers.”
Lillard is coming off one of the best seasons of his career in which he averaged 32.2 points and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 37.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.