Portland Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin had zero interest in accommodating the superstar in any way, shape or form, Lillard told The Athletic’s Sam Amick.
“It was anything to go against what I would have wanted,” Lillard said, according to Amick‘s October 23 story. “That part was irritating. Just based off how it was happening, I knew [it wouldn’t be Miami]. [The Blazers] hadn’t talked to Miami. So once it started happening like that, then I started hearing about all these other random teams, I was like, ‘I’m probably not going to Miami.’ So I wasn’t holding on to that too [much].”
“[The Heat] did everything they could to acquire Dame,” Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, said, according to the Miami Herald. “It takes two to get a deal done.”
Damian Lillard Said He Stayed in Contact With Jimmy Butler During Trade Talks
In a separate interview with Melissa Rohlin of Fox Sports, Lillard revealed that Heat superstar Jimmy Butler was a primary reason for his interest in heading to South Beach. He also noted that he and Butler had been in communication with each other all summer.
“We’ve always been in some form of contact with each other,” Lillard said. “And I said it, initially I was like, ‘I want to go to Miami.’ He was a big part of that. It didn’t happen. I’m here now. But our relationship will be the same. The same respect. It’s just something that didn’t happen. It was out of his control and mine.”
Instead of teaming with Butler and Bam Adebayo, Lillard formed a super-duo with Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. Now in the Eastern Conference, Lillard will be competing against the Heat more regularly. Their first matchup is Monday, October 30, with other games in November and February.
When speaking with Taylor Rooks on NBA TV, Butler was asked about Miami missing out on Dame. His response was exactly what you’d expect. “I am happy for Dame,” Butler said on October 2. “But I’m still gonna be me. I’m gonna go beat Dame, Giannis and Adrian Griffin on our way to a title.”
Damian Lillard Said Milwaukee Bucks Are Best Team for Him
Lillard, a seven-time All-Star, averaged 32.2 points, 7.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds in 58 games last season. Despite his interest in playing for the Heat, Lillard said he was happy in Cream City.
“I think this is the best basketball situation for me,” Lillard told Fox Sports. “The depth is what makes me think this is my best chance to win. We’ve just got to be healthy. And we’ve got to be together.”
The Heat won its season opener on October 25, beating the Detroit Pistons 103-102. The Bucks kick off their 2023-24 campaign off against the Philadelphia 76ers on October 26.
Miami beat Milwaukee in five games in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last year. It will be interesting to see if their paths cross in the postseason again at the end of the year.