The Portland Trail Blazers are currently trying to figure out how to handle Damian Lillard’s trade request, which is made extremely difficult by Lillard and his agent Aaron Goodwin publicly stating the only team he will play for is the Miami Heat.
That, obviously, puts a significant damper on his trade market, as other teams are wary of putting offers on the table for Lillard if there’s a threat of him being disgruntled or unhappy in a situation that isn’t Miami. The Heat, meanwhile, don’t have the type of players or assets the Blazers are looking for in return for Lillard, particularly because Tyler Herro is a bit of a redundancy for a Portland team already full of young guards like Anfernee Simons, Scoot Henderson, and Shaedon Sharpe. The result has been a stalemate, but the issue of stars demanding trades to specific teams (and doing so publicly) has become an issue teams aren’t happy about.
On Friday, word broke from Shams Charania that the league sent a memo to teams saying they had interviewed Lillard, Goodwin, and other teams and made it clear that there would be potential discipline for players or agents that make statements about only wanting a trade to one place.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 28, 2023
The full memo, per Chris Haynes, reads as follows:
Full NBA memo sent to all 30 teams regarding rhetoric on trade request made by Damian Lillard and his agent Aaron Goodwin.
“Recent media reports stated that Damian Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, called multiple NBA teams to warn them against trading for Lillard because…
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 28, 2023
“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.”
Now, Lillard is not alone in doing this — James Harden is in a similar position with his request to leave Philly for the Clippers and has done this multiple times in his career requesting a trade and having a specific destination in mind — but it’s an issue the league is seemingly tired of and looking to nip in the bud. As far as the discipline is concerned, the new CBA states that any player publicly demanding a trade can be suspended or fined up to $150,000.
As Charania notes, Goodwin has walked back his previous comments and denied the report from Adrian Wojnarowski he’s called teams to tell them Lillard won’t play for them. We’ll see if that changes anything with the pursuit of Lillard from teams outside of Miami, but with this verbiage in the new CBA, this is the first time the NBA has taken the opportunity to remind players of the new rules and make clear they’ll be looking to enforce them if players and agents are brazen in their attempts to direct a trade to one place.