The split between Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers has reached the “chess match calculations” stage, with Lillard trying to engineer a deal for the Miami Heat while Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin insists he explore other offers. The conflicting goals and intrigues of the two sides were revealed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnaroswki in a wide piece In Lillard’s ongoing saga [subscription required]. Wojnarowski ran the usual list of trade possibilities, but the more interesting material involved the managers themselves.
Wojnarowski cites league sources, saying Cronin and the Blazers intend to honor Lillard’s trade request, but are committed to taking the best deal available and soliciting offers for the same:
The ownership plans to honor Lillard’s request with a trade, but Blazers officials are telling the teams they will only transfer Lillard for the deepest return of assets available. Portland is seeking an all-star slithering package of coveted draft picks and high-profile young players. For the summer, Cronin had the betting market on Miami.
While executing the exit of the greatest player in franchise history, executives who speak to Cronin describe him as devoid of emotion. Business for Lillard, Business for Blazers.
As the rarest commodity in sports, star players hold a lot of influence. Lillard certainly qualifies. Wojnarowski emphasizes the Point Guard’s individual preference in a Heat match and describes some of the tactics Lillard and his reps use to ensure they get what they want:
As Cronin explores the broader scene, Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, has been calling potential business partners and cautioning against trading for his client, team managers told ESPN. Goodwin tells organizations outside of Miami that trading for Lillard trades for an unhappy player. As overlapping continues, this is a reputable agent maneuver to cut offers and clear a path to a predetermined destination.
Under the circumstances, these developments are not unexpected. They’re somewhat of a departure from the happy happy Lillard and Blazers shell that bombed their relationship by this point. An amicable divorce is still a divorce. We’ll see how this turns out.
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