The controversial saga between the Portland Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard has been the storyline of the NBA summer since the seven-time All-Star requested a trade from the franchise on July 1.
Since that date, national media pundits and fans have taken turns providing opinions and speculation about the situation. Recently, NBA great and TNT media personality Charles Barkley voiced his stance on the standoff between franchise and star.
During an appearance this week on The Ringer’s “Bill Simmons Podcast,” Sir Charles called Lillard’s request “unfair” to the Blazers, specifically his wish to only be traded to the Miami Heat.
“I think Dame’s request was unfair, only going to Miami, because Miami don’t have any assets. …The only problem I have with Dame, he says, ‘Hey trade me, try to put me in the best situation.’ But they can’t screw up their organization by taking pennies on the dollar.”
While on the subject, Barkley reminisced on his own superstar trade situation with the Philadelphia 76ers. In the summer of 1992, after eight seasons with Philadelphia, the franchise that drafted Barkley in 1984, he said he was ready to request a trade. Barkley said he spent a week with his agent drafting a trade request letter, but the day before he planned to send it, he was informed he had been traded to the Phoenix Suns.
The trade: Barkley to Phoenix in exchange for guard Jeff Hornacek, power forward Tim Perry and center Andrew Lang. The Ringer’s Bill Simmons called it an “all-time bad trade” from Philadelphia’s perspective. Barkley won MVP the following year as the Suns lost to the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals, while the 76ers went on to miss the playoffs for six consecutive seasons.
Simmons: “I think Miami feels like they’re gonna end up with their version of Hornacek, Perry and Lang for Dame. I just don’t think Portland’s gonna do it.
Barkley: That’s not fair to the Trail Blazers. They shouldn’t do it. Dame is one of my favorite players, and they have treated Dame great, but for them to take pennies on the dollar, I just think you can’t run your organization like that. ‘Hey Dame, we want to do right by you, but we want to do right by our organization, too.’”
Simmons: And they need to leverage the fact that he loves basketball. I’m sure in December he’ll get traded, but I don’t see it before the [season].
To Simmons’ point, the clock is beginning to get worrisome for those hoping for a Lillard trade before the season starts. NBA training camps open for most teams on Oct. 3. Portland’s season opener tips off on Oct. 25.