It's been nine days since Damian Lillard asked the Portland Trail Blazers for a trade to the Miami Heat, but according to Blazers general manager Joe Cronin, it could be a whole lot longer before he gets his wish. Cronin addressed the media on Monday, and he made it clear that he will be patient in seeking out the best possible deal. "If it takes months, it takes months," Cronin said.
Of course, if Lillard has his way. That won't change the outcome. All reports have indicated that he wants to join the Heat and only the Heat, and Cronin acknowledged the difficulty that presents. "As a team, you always hope that you have more options," Cronin said. "To have limited options like that, I wouldn't call it frustrating but it prevents you from perhaps getting the best return."
Lillard, unlike Bradley Beal, does not have a no-trade clause. He therefore lacks the power to deny trades to undesirable locations. Cronin made it clear that Lillard's future does matter to the team, but that "we have to find the right deal and do what's best for us." If that means a deal with a team besides the Heat? So be it. Of course, making such a trade is easier said than done. Lillard's agent, Aaron Goodwin, has spoken with teams besides the Heat and informed them that trading for Lillard would mean trading for an unhappy player.
For years, Lillard tried to find a way to win in Portland. Even this offseason, he'd hoped that the Blazers would find a way to build a win-now roster around him. But Portland couldn't do so, and the weight of that still hangs on Cronin. "I don't feel that I did everything I could because I didn't get done what I needed to get done," Cronin said. "In that sense, I do feel like I failed Dame. Our goal was to win now as quickly as possible. If he didn't feel that way, it was a failure on my end."
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Now Portland is moving into a rebuild with a promising trio of guards in Scoot Henderson, Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simons. The return on a Lillard trade will be essential in putting a winner around those guards, and while Portland would like to help Lillard get to a winner, they are under no obligation to give him to Miami on a silver platter. The Blazers are going to wait out the best possible return, whether it comes from the Heat or someone else.