Following Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard’s trade request this morning, the franchise is entering an inflection point, one that Portland General Manager Joe Cronin must navigate through.
With Lillard’s request still fresh, Cronin issued a brief statement in response to the news and about the franchise’s path forward. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the statement in a tweet.
“We have been clear that we want Dame here but he notified us today he wants out and he’d prefer to play someplace else. What has not changed for us is that we’re committed to winning, and we are going to do what’s best for the team in pursuit of that goal.”
Following several reports of Lillard’s request for a trade, Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes reported the Miami Heat is Lillard’s preferred destination, with Miami eyeing a potential package centered on Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson to land the star point guard. However, Cronin may have other ideas in mind to ensure the Blazers receive a fair return package, according to Wojnarowski.
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.
Cronin had been steadfast in his goal of building a championship contender around Lillard since he took over the GM job in December 2021. Cronin reiterated the intention at his exit interview following the end of the 2022-23 season, one in which Portland failed to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season, and again following June’s NBA Draft after Portland drafted point guard Scoot Henderson with the No. 3 pick.
Once again, even with Lillard officially asking to leave the franchise, Cronin is asserting the team was committed to keeping the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. Now, Cronin appears to be looking ahead to a future without Lillard in the fold.
UPDATE: If the Blazers do agree to a trade involving Miami guard Tyler Herro, Portland is working to ensure Herro lands with another franchise in the deal, according to Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer.