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Spears: Jayson Tatum has called Damian Lillard recruiting him to Celtics

Marc Spears said Jayson Tatum has been in Damian Lillard’s ear, but Lillard’s focus remains fixated on the Miami Heat.

Boston Celtics v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Marc Spears said on the Oregonian’s Sports by Northwest podcast that Jayson Tatum contacted Damian Lillard, trying to recruit him to the Boston Celtics. Tatum and Boston’s interest in Lillard had been previously reported, but Lillard remains intent on Miami and it’s unclear how Boston could pull off a trade given Portland’s dissatisfaction with the Heat’s potential offers.

“I think at 33 years old, (Lillard) looks at the landscape of the West and it’s like, ‘I think my chances are better to go out East, and if Miami is able to make the Finals without somebody like myself, what can they do with me?’ ... I know that Boston — I know Jayson Tatum has called him, tried to get in his ear, but his focus is definitely on Miami,” Spears said.

The Celtics and Jaylen Brown agreeing on an extension last month made Brown ineligible to be traded for one year. Derrick White wouldn’t appeal to Portland as a veteran on a two-year contract. Matching money would require sending Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Williams III, Al Horford and Payton Pritchard while retaining White. It’s also worth considering an eventual Lillard trade could include moving Jusuf Nurkic’s three-year, $54.3 million deal in a larger trade. Boston would also have to offer all of its future draft capital.

That’s the cost of creating a four-star super team. Would it overpower the league’s other contenders like Denver, or prove too thin at this stage to play anyone except its stars? Boston would need to find a minimum backup big like Christian Wood in that scenario for injury-prone Kristaps Porzingis.

White could help spell Lillard, without any depth behind them. Sam Hauser, Oshae Brissett and Jordan Walsh would remain as wing depth. Boston’s interest in Lillard almost definitely lays in the past, with a luxury tax and roster transformation that large improbable with camp looming in one month.

Miami maintains some urgency to get this done after they lost Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and didn’t acquire other reinforcements this summer. Seeing Lillard in a Heat uniform, given Miami’s success against the Celtics since 2020, should frighten Boston, but not enough to move the earth to step in front of the Heat with an aggressive offer.

Tatum’s individual interest in adding Lillard probably transcends the front office’s and happened in the past. Chris Haynes also noted earlier this summer, asked about Boston as a destination, that Lillard won’t be going to the Celtics.

“I think (Lillard) ends up in Miami,” Spears said later in the podcast.

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