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NBA star lists preferred trade destinations

By Sean Keane,

Damian Lillard.

Damian Lillard hasn’t requested a trade. But he did tell ESPN where he’d like to go.

During an appearance on the Showtime boxing show "The Last Stand", Brian Custer gave Lillard a hypothetical:  If Lillard were to be traded to one of the teams rumored to have interest in him - the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics or Brooklyn Nets - which destination would Lillard prefer?

"Obviously the Heat," Lillard said, laughing. "Miami is the obvious one, and Bam (Adebayo) is my dog." He added that Brooklyn was "another obvious one, because Mikal Bridges is my dog, too."

To be clear, Lillard has not requested a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers, who have the No. 3 pick in this year's draft. But he has also said that he "doesn't have much of an appetite" for playing with another young prospect in Portland, after a season of playing alongside promising but raw wing Shaedon Sharpe.

While Miami doesn't have the obvious draft pick assets Portland would likely want in a Lillard trade, Pat Riley is notorious for acquiring stars with limited trade capital, from the Alonzo Mourning deal to the Shaquille O'Neal trade , and even the deals that brought in Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry to this edition of the Heat. Lillard's on-and-off commitment to defense might not fit the Heat, however.

Brooklyn is a very intriguing destination for Lillard. First, they have Bridges, who Lillard has regularly complimented over the years, calling him "my favorite small forward in the league" in 2021. Bridges fueled the rumors by jumping onto Lillard's Instagram Live last week.

They also have five extra first-round picks from trading Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, plus enough medium-sized contracts to match Lillard's $45.6M salary for next year.

It really depends on whether Portland can make a deal using the No. 3 pick, perhaps packaged with players like Sharpe or Anfernee Simons to pry Bridges away from the Nets. Portland also owns the Knicks' No. 23 pick this season.

It also depends on whether Portland is truly committed to paying Lillard $216M for his age 33-36 seasons after the team won just 60 games over the last two seasons. If they do decide to part ways with their superstar, Lillard has made it clear where he'd prefer to go.

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