The complete timeline of the Damian Lillard trade saga

Mar 8, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) reacts during a break in the action against the Boston Celtics in the second quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 8, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) reacts during a break in the action against the Boston Celtics in the second quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

From Damian Lillard’s eye-opening exit interview to the current standoff, here’s a recounting of Lillard’s buzzing trade request to the Miami Heat that has yet to be resolved.

After Damian Lillard’s season was shut down in March, the now-33-year-old met with reporters and said, in no uncertain terms, that he’s not interested in a rebuild. This was news for a team positioned to be in the lottery and would later win the No. 3 overall pick. It also sparked wide-spread curiosity in Lillard’s future in Portland, where he had spent the first 11 years of his career. Following two years of missing the playoffs and an apparent youth movement, would Lillard finally reach the point of demanding a trade? If so, where would he go?

Of course, we know what happened next. A few months later, Lillard asked for Portland to trade him to Miami. Yet, as of now, there has yet to be deal. Instead what we have is a stalemate in negotiations that has fed a growingly frustrating debate about Lillard’s trade demand, players honoring contracts, Tyler Herro’s value and what organizations owe great players.

While we wait, here’s a refresher of how we got here and why negotiations are at a standstill.

March 21: Damian Lillard addresses the media for the last time of the season and is asked about the Trail Blazers’ apparent plans to rebuild through the draft. He says, “That’s not what I’m interested in. That’s the frustrating part of it is. Talking about what’s going to happen next season, and us building, that’s not what I’m here to do. Especially at this stage of my career.”

May 16: Portland moves up from the No. 5 draft slot to No. 3 in the NBA draft lottery.

June 8: Lillard, when asked about cities he’d prefer to play in, tells Brian Custer of “The Last Stand” podcast: “Miami is the obvious one, and Bam [Adebayo] is my dawg.” All of this sparks speculation that Lillard is nearing a trade request and, if he does, would prefer to be dealt to the Heat.

June 18: Six days after the Heat lost the Finals in five games to the Denver Nuggets, TNT’s Chris Haynes reports, “Miami’s focus is Portland superstar Damian Lillard with the genuine belief this could be the offseason the veteran guard seeks a change of scenery.”

June 20: Yahoo’s Jake Fischer reports that the Blazers are unlikely to trade the No. 3 pick unless they get “one of a select number of premium targets to pair with Lillard,” adding that “Portland is preparing what the team believes to be a compelling package for Miami to part with All-Defensive centerpiece Bam Adebayo.” Reports later indicate that Miami has no interest in such a deal.

June 22: The Trail Blazers select Scoot Henderson with the third-overall pick. After, GM Joe Cronin told, “There’s nothing we want more than, number one, for Dame to retire a Trail Blazer, and two, put a winner around him a high-end winner. I think that’s what gets misconstrued about Dame sometimes, like for us, it’s an incredible problem to have. We have the best player in Trail Blazers history, that wants to be here and wants to have a winner put around him, and that’s our challenge. That’s where we’ve got to keep doing our thing and find ways to make this team as competitive as possible, as quickly as possible.”

June 23: Haynes tweets, “Damian Lillard has not had any recent communication with the Portland Trail Blazers involving the draft, free agency or his future.”

June 26: League sources tell Haynes and other reporters that Lillard and his agent, Aaron Goodwin, plan to meet with the Trail Blazers front office to discuss the franchise’s direction. Fans and media await a trade request to be announced. Instead, Cronin says through a statement that, “I met with Dame and Aaron Goodwin this afternoon. We had a great dialogue. We remain committed to building a winner around Dame.”

June 30: Free agency begins and the Blazers re-sign Jerami Grant to a five-year, $160 million contract. However, other top free agents sign elsewhere and it’s clear that Portland’s biggest moves are complete.

July 1: Lillard issues his trade request and tells the Trail Blazers that he wants to be dealt to the Heat.

ESPN reports that the Heat, Clippers and 76ers are three teams that could explore trades for Lillard, and that “the Blazers are expected to value deals that would bring them back young players and draft assets.” Woj later reports on a SportsCenter hit that “Front offices talking to Portland today were left with impression that GM Joe Cronin is pursuing a star-level return package for Damian Lillard – and that Cronin plans to look well beyond the Miami Heat to find one.”

July 2: Woj, with another update, says the Blazers are not cooperating with Lillard’s wishes, and the Heat have no advantage because of Lillard’s demands.

July 3: The Athletic’s Sam Amick reports that the Blazers are entertaining offers from around the league to seek the best possible deal, though “there remains a strong belief a deal to Miami remains the most likely outcome.” Amick adds that “Lillard’s openness with his preference is expected to keep other teams at bay without assurance that Lillard would be happy to join them.”

Amidst reports that there are no other offers for Lillard, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst says on a podcast that the 76ers being willing to include guard Tyrese Maxey could be enough to help get a Lillard trade done, but that Philadelphia has not made him available. “Of the available pieces that could be offered for Dame Lillard, I think Maxey is the prime piece. And again, if Philadelphia was making that offer, Dame Lillard might be in Philly right now. But they are not.”

This same day, the Miami Herald reports that a standoff looms if the Blazers attempt to trade Lillard to a team other than the Heat. “Though Lillard does not have a no-trade clause, his mind-set — at this time — is to remain resolute and adamant that Miami is the only place he wants to play. If the Blazers attempt to send him to a different location, Lillard will need to decide how he wants to handle it and how messy he wants it to become.”

July 4: Woj reports that the Trail Blazers are “not impressed” with the Heat’s trade offer for Lillard, which could lead to a deal elsewhere and have no interest in Herro. He adds, “Portland will now take their time to find better offers elsewhere to receive the best package for Lillard.”

July 5: ESPN’s Mark Spears reports that, “Lillard wants to play for Miami and only Miami, I have been continually told since Saturday. Certainly, it’s easier said than done. I’m told that while Portland isn’t happy with potential packages, there are over five teams interested in a potential multiteam trade that could get it done. It won’t be today or tomorrow or perhaps the next day, but I believe it will ultimately end up with Lillard going to Miami. While Lillard does not have a no-trade clause, it doesn’t make sense to trade for a future Hall of Famer who doesn’t want to be there.” Also, Windhorst reports that the Nets could be interested in trading picks for Herro.

July 6: In a story published by ESPN in the morning, Wojnarowski writes that Cronin is not in a rush to trade Lillard, and that  “As Cronin explores the broader landscape, Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, has been calling prospective trade partners and warning against trading for his client, team executives told ESPN. Goodwin is telling organizations outside of Miami that trading for Lillard is trading for an unhappy player.”

In response to ESPN’s story, Goodwin tells the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson that he has indeed been in contact with other teams, adding Lillard “wants to play in Miami. Period.”

On the same afternoon, the Boston Globe reports that the Celtics have “no intention of entering the Damian Lillard sweepstakes.”

July 7: Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian, reports that the Blazers, “are seeking in the neighborhood of four first-round picks and two quality players for Damian Lillard. But accomplishing that could require adding a third team to the equation.”

July 10: In Las Vegas during Summer League, Cronin tells reporters, “We’re going to be patient. We’re going to do what’s best for our team. We’re going to see how this lands. And if it takes months, it takes months.”

While appearing on “The Pat McAfee Show,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania indicated that Lillard has no interest in playing for the Clippers or Celtics. “Whether it’s the Clippers, whether it’s the Celtics… I think the answer has been a resounding no. He wants to be in Miami, period.”

July 14: Woj reports that the Trail Blazers will not rush into what they consider a “bad deal” from the Heat, and that Miami does not want to “bid against themselves” for Lillard.

July 15: In addition to the Nets, the Raptors are reportedly showing interest in acquiring Herro as a part of a multi-team trade talks between the Blazers and Heat involving Lillard, league sources tell HoopsHype.

July 18: Charania reports “Portland has told Miami … Make your best offer.”

July 19: Meadowlark Media’s Dan Le Batard says that there are no calls between the Heat and Trail Blazers, and that “[Pat] Riley and the Heat are talking all the time about what you have to do to make this happen. Because now the partnership is no longer with Lillard and Portland. The partnership now is already Lillard and Miami.” He adds that the Heat believe Herro is a better player than Maxey, which goes viral and spurs a heated online debate.

July 21: Haynes reports that “Miami’s frustrated with how things are moving slowly. Portland’s telling them bring us your best offer. Miami would like to know what Portland wants & Miami isn’t getting that answer. Heat feel like things could be moving quicker if Portland said exactly what they want.”

July 23: The AP’s Tim Reynolds said on Saturday Sports World with Marc Stein that Lillard has “made up his mind, this is what he wants. There’s a billion reasons why. The connection he had with Bam Adebayo I think is a really understated story right now in this whole deal. They connected incredibly at the Tokyo Olympics. You could see bonds being formed. They’ve stayed close.”

It’s clear by now that Portland has not had any meaningful dialogue with Miami and neither side seems inclined to change its stance. The Trail Blazers don’t see a reason to engage, and the Heat see no need to increase their offer — which is thought to include one of Kyle Lowry or Duncan Robinson’s contracts and multiple first-round picks (with some being sent to Portland by a third team acquiring Herro) — when other teams have not made an offer. The Heat won’t bid against themselves, and the Blazers won’t accept their offer. That’s why we have a stalemate.