Damian Lillard has spent the 2023 offseason fighting to get to a specific team: the Miami Heat. Rumors have gone so far as to suggest that Lillardto any team besides the Heat or his current Portland Trail Blazers. But Lillard had not directly addressed the possibility of playing for other teams… until Tuesday. On an appearance on It Is What It Is with Cam’ron and Ma$e, he spoke about another long-rumored suitor for his services: his hometown Golden State Warriors.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, Lillard is not interested. “I respect what they’ve been doing over the last eight, nine years or whatever, and I’m from there, obviously. That’s home. But I can’t go be a part of that,” Lillard said at roughly the 53-minute mark. “They won four championships. What I look like going to try to do that?”
Lillard went on to take things a step further, essentially taking the possibility of a homecoming off of the table forever. “I’d never do nothing like that,” he continued. “I’d lose every year before I go.”
Lillard has several viable reasons for not wanting to play for Golden State. He saw firsthand how much criticism Kevin Durant received when he chose to join the Warriors in 2016, and even if he hadn’t, Stephen Curry currently occupies Lillard’s position of point guard. Curry and Lillard could perhaps play together, but the Warriors also have Klay Thompson and Chris Paul. One of them would almost certainly need to be in the deal, but meshing the three that remain would not be easy. Fortunately for Lillard, the Warriors have not credibly been linked to him this offseason, so he’s probably safe.
Still, it’s not hard to consider Lillard’s stance here a tad hypocritical. If the Warriors are the most successful team of this era of NBA history, the Heat are probably second. They are only other team to win multiple championships since 2011, and have made the Finals six times in that span. That includes two trips in the last four years led by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. There is a slight difference in the fact that Butler and Adebayo have never actually won a championship in Miami whereas Golden State’s core has been around for all four, but the Heat aren’t exactly some up-and-comer. They’ve won plenty without Lillard.
Lillard has said in bothand 2021 that he is not interested in joining a super team. The Heat with Lillard, Butler and Adebayo would undoubtedly be a super team. But apparently, Lillard’s stance on super teams has softened a bit. Now, it’s dynasties he’s avoiding at all costs.