The NBA on Friday sent a memo to all 30 teams regarding the rhetoric of the trade request made by Damian Lillard and his agent Aaron Goodwin. Here’s the full memo, courtesy of TNT’s Chris Haynes:
“Recent media reports stated that Damian Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, called multiple NBA teams to warn them against trading for Lillard because Lillard’s only desired trade destination is Miami. Goodwin also made public comments indicating that Lillard would not fully perform the services called for under his player contract if traded to another team.
“We interviewed Goodwin and Lillard and also spoke with several NBA teams to whom Goodwin spoke. Goodwin denied stating or indicating to any team that Lillard would refuse to play for them. Goodwin and Lillard affirmed to us that Lillard would fully perform the services called for under his player contract in any trade scenario. The relevant teams provided descriptions of their communications with Goodwin that were mostly, though not entirely, consistent with Goodwin’s statements to us.
“We have advised Goodwin and Lillard that any future comments, made privately to teams or publicly, suggesting Lillard will not fully perform the services called for under his player contract in the event of a trade will subject Lillard to discipline by the NBA. We also have advised the Players Association that any similar comments by players or their agents will be subject to discipline going forward.”
A few things stand out from the memo, but the main issue the NBA appears to have are Goodwin’s threats that his client, Lillard, would not fulfill the requirements of his contract (i.e. play) if he were traded to another team.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson both reported earlier this month that Goodwin was warning teams not to trade for Lillard, threatening that he would refuse to play. Lillard has four years remaining on his contract.
The league has been taking issues pertaining to breach of contract seriously, most recently in the case of Ben Simmons. After requesting a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers, Simmons held out for a portion of the 2021-22 season and Philadelphia withheld his pay. Simmons and the Players Association filed a grievance against the Sixers to recoup some of his salary and eventually settled. It’s telling that the NBA league office did not get involved then (giving the appearance that they sided with the team, not the player).
This stance is understandable. It’s one thing for players to demand trades — a grey area that the league has attempted to administrate via tampering rules, etc — it’s another to refuse to play while under contract. It’s just not a good look.
Some Heat fans will ask where the NBA was when Anthony Davis and other stars threatened not to resign with teams that traded for them, but that’s a different matter. Players are under no obligation to re-sign, but they are obligated to play while under contract.
The opinion here is that this memo is valid and isn’t “anti-Heat” so much as it’s a slap on the wrist of Goodwin. When all said and done, it should not impede Miami’s ability to trade for Lillard, who issued his trade request from Portland three weeks ago.