The Damian Lillard sweepstakes has become the single biggest narrative in the league in the last couple of months. However, with no progress made on that end, it seems like the Philadelphia 76ers have already closed the door on him potentially being traded to the franchise.
While the 76ers have the ammunition to make a deal work, Lillard’s camp has made it crystal clear among front offices that his preferred destination is Miami. Heck, his agent’s rumored warning to non-Heat teams about trading for the star was met with a stern injunction by Adam Silver, leaving his camp to deny ever sending out such signal to other teams.
Nevertheless, the market for Lillard has thinned out dramatically, with reports now suggesting that the Heat are the only team tendering a serious offer to the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Philadelphia 76ers may have already passed up on trading for Damian Lillard
With the James Harden situation still atop the whiteboard for the Sixers brass, it’s no surprise that the team has taken a back seat in the rather static bidding war for Lillard. Portland will surely not settle for any of the 76ers’ expiring contracts in Harden and Tobias Harris.
Realistically, the only avenue to acquire the superstar guard is to make Tyrese Maxey available — currently a no-no for the front office — and to sweeten the pot with handsome draft compensation.
Hence, this latest development could prove to be a blessing in disguise down the road for the 76ers which, amid uncertainty, cannot afford to mortgage their entire future to chase sterling names. Instead, building around Joel Embiid and Maxey seems to be the more tenable route for the front office in trying to build the roster, especially considering the fact that they will soon have a ton of wiggle room to spend next year.
The window is still not completely shut on Lillard, but the much safer bet now is for Philly to exercise more patience and caution as they approach a crucial year. Breaking the entire bank for a potentially unhappy Lillard will definitely not redound to the Sixers’ benefit nor improve the team enough to peg the move from Harden to Lillard a success given what they have to give up.
For now, the Philadelphia 76ers are in full control of their destiny. And they’ll even have fuller control next year if they avoid making shortsighted moves.