For every team not named the Nuggets of Heat, the NBA offseason is in full swing. Not in terms of things actually happening, but in terms of the rumors, posturing, summer workout IGs etc. There are a few yearly traditions when it comes to this stuff, and we got our first look at one yesterday with Ben Simmons posting his workouts on IG. You can set your watch to that shit.
The same is true with Damian Lillard. We are entering what, Year 50 of the whole "Will Dame demand to be traded?" routine. We'll get the leak to Chris Haynes about how Dame is loyal and wants to stay in Portland, but then he'll also do things to fan the flames of speculation. It happens literally every summer, and this year is certainly no different
Now, there is something to the idea that maybe all this is just a way for Dame to keep the pressure on the Blazers front office to do what needs to be done in order to bring in proven NBA talent that can help the Blazers win. Whether that involved the #3 pick, some of their young players, making sure they pay Jerami Grant in UFA this summer, who knows.
But here's the thing. For years Dame has been on record saying that he doesn't care if he never wins a ring in Portland, he'll never ask to leave or want to leave. But now, unless they built the right team around him to compete they have to have a separate conversation? That kind of feels like the opposite of everything we've been hearing for years now. He's essentially saying build with vets around me or trade me, which sort of puts the Blazers in a tough spot.
If you're bringing in that level of impact veteran, it's going to be expensive. It's most likely going to cost at least #3 and other pieces the Blazers are already putting out that wouldn't even be available
Essentially Dame is asking/telling the Blazers to punt on the next 10+ years to help build around him as he ages, which NBA history suggests might not be the best move for an older, smaller, offensive minded point guard. That's both a Blazers problem if they keep him and a potential problem for anyone who might trade for Dame. You're attaching yourself to this
and given what it will take to event trade for Dame in the first place, does that make sense for teams to take on that kind of money given the age/new CBA? Dame is a Top 75 team guy and just had the best year of his career, so it's not like he stinks. He's awesome.
But that stuff matters moving forward.
Now that second clip will probably do numbies, and people won't really care much about the context. He's simply answering a question based off a list of teams that were given to him. He was playing along. I'm sure it will then get spinzoned into Dame wants to be traded to the Heat or the Nets etc, he'll probably get defensive about it on Twitter, and around and around we'll go. That part doesn't mean as much to me compared to the first quote because that's what actually matters. It's not like Dame has a no trade clause, so if he demands out he'll have to go wherever the Blazers decide is the best package. They don't owe him anything in terms of putting him in a spot to win a title, they'll need to look at what is best for their franchise in a post-Dame world. Maybe that's a contender, maybe not. There's certainly no guarantee either way whether he stays or goes.
The whole thing has to be so exhausting for Blazers fans. This isn't just some random guy, this is arguably the greatest player in their franchise's history. One minute he's saying he'll never leave, the next he's leaking stuff to put pressure on the front office to maybe do something that isn't in their best interest, what a pickle to be in as a fan. At some point either turn your key and formally request the trade, or stop talking about this stuff. You're not a free agent, you're signed long term, just play it out and let the chips fall where they may. Doing this dance every single offseason has to get tiresome as a Blazers fan.