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ESPN Panelists Weigh in on Damian Lillard Destination

Miami remains the frontrunner, but a couple other ideas arise.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA is still buzzing about possible destinations for Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard after his trade request last weekend. The Miami Heat are the frontrunners, due to Lillard’s reportedly-strong preference. Other franchises are nibbling at the corners of the discussion as well.

Today a panel of ESPN writers ran down the 2023 NBA Free Agency period so far. Predictably, they devoted plenty of space to the Lillard saga.

While Miami held the aces among the five experts, a couple of surprising details crept in.

Tim MacMahon suggested the Utah Jazz as a possible alternative destination:

The best bet is that Lillard will get his wish and wind up in Miami. But let’s discuss an intriguing sleeper: the Utah Jazz. If Danny Ainge decides to roll the dice, the Jazz can make the most attractive offer to the Trail Blazers, thanks to all the picks Utah accumulated over the past year in trades with the Timberwolves, Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers. Would it be worth it to add a 33-year-old superstar (who happened to play college ball in Utah at Weber State) to a core that includes 25-year-old All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen and All-Rookie center Walker Kessler?

Tim Bontemps advocated for the Sixers:

The Philadelphia 76ers. I think this is a two-horse race that could easily see Lillard winding up in Miami. But with Philadelphia having the most attractive trade option on the board — rising star guard Tyrese Maxey — I’ll bet on 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey finding a way to land yet another star.

While Marc Spears not only doubled down on the Heat, he infinity-downed, adding in extra mustard:

Damian Lillard wants to play for Miami and only Miami, I have been continually told since Saturday. Certainly, it’s easier said than done. I’m told that while Portland isn’t happy with potential packages, there are over five teams interested in a potential multiteam trade that could get it done. It won’t be today or tomorrow or perhaps the next day, but I believe it will ultimately end up with Lillard going to Miami. While Lillard does not have a no-trade clause, it doesn’t make sense to trade for a future Hall of Famer who doesn’t want to be there.

We’ll have more on Lillard rumors and analysis as the situation evolves over the next few days.