James Harden has been making all the headlines: Calling Daryl Morey a liar, getting fined by the league, and generally trying to be the kind of disruption to a 76ers team that sees itself as a contender that Morey will have no choice but to make a deal.
Damian Lillard has been quiet while talks surrounding his trade request — specifically to the Miami Heat — remain stalled. It's not his nature to be the kind of distraction Harden is more comfortable being, but that doesn't lessen his desire to see a deal done. Or for the Heat to want to acquire him.
Expect things to pick up closer to the start of training camp in early October. That's logical and what most people around the league have been saying (about both the Harden and Lillard trades). For more validation, here is what Anthony Chiang wrote in the Miami Herald:
The expectation from those around this situation is that trade talks could pick up as the start of camp inches closer. And if the Heat is the only team extending a serious offer for Lillard, then the Trail Blazers may need to at least engage the Heat on some healthy trade discussions.
The negotiations need a few things to move forward. Trail Blazers GM Joe Cronin has kept his asking price for Lillard high — with reason, Lillard averaged 32.2 points and 7.3 assists a game last season, making another All-NBA team — but the market for Lillard is limited due to his age (33) and the four remaining years of his contract at max money. Portland is not going to be able to be picky about the quality of first-round picks or swaps, and they will have to take some contracts back. The other questions include bringing in a third team that might want Tyler Herro, and/or where Caleb Martin fits in any deal.
NBA negotiations need a deadline or some pressure to move forward, these trade talks are no exception. It's easy for Cronin to hold a high line all summer and see if any team will meet it, but he's going to need to come back to earth. The distraction and disruption to a young team dealing with Lillard in camp — even if he is a model citizen — will be intense and set the team back. Miami needs to find a way to put more in the deal or find the right third partner to get it done. The Heat don't want to add Lillard mid-season, it's better to have him for training camp and give him time to mesh with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and the rest of the roster.
Talks will jump start around a Lillard trade closer to the start of training camp. Whether the sides get a deal done is another question, but expect the talks to return, and this time have a little more urgency.