Miami Heat ‘Team to watch’ if Damian Lillard requests a trade

Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives past Caleb Martin #16 of the Miami Heat(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives past Caleb Martin #16 of the Miami Heat(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) /

The Miami Heat have officially clinched a playoff spot, and will be taking on the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. However, it wouldn’t be a complete Heat fan experience without transaction talk even at the start of the postseason, as rumors of Damian Lillard are starting to pick up wind.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently hinted that the Heat could be targeting Lillard if he decides to leave the Portland Trail Blazers this off-season. Portland missed the playoffs, leaving some to speculate that Lillard may be ready to move on in pursuit of a championship.

"“If he asks [for a trade] it could help the Blazers really go to another level,” Windhorst said. “The team I’m watching is the Miami Heat. The Heat are ready to go to their next star window. This is what the Heat do. The Heat hunt stars.”"

Lillard is undeniably one of the league’s most talented players and averaged a career-high 32 points, seven assists, and nearly five rebounds this season. He shot an impressive 37% from 3-point range on 11 attempts per game.

It’s interesting to hear Windhorst mention Miami as one of the teams to look out for. Everyone knows they’re not in the best situation asset wise, but it does make sense. Lillard is 32 years old and will be making nearly $60 million in his age 35 season. It’s possible that trading for Lillard wouldn’t require an absurd haul of five first round picks and swaps the way we’ve seen for someone like Donovan Mitchell.

Miami has two first-round picks (a third if it can lift protections on a future pick owed to OKC), young players such as Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin and Nikola Jovic and large salaries to match with Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson.

This is all to say that this is neither a Donovan Mitchell or Kevin Durant situation. Mitchell is a young, franchise-changing player worth moving off several longterm assets. Durant is one of the best players in the game when healthy, and we saw what he went for. Lillard is somewhere in the middle of those two.

Lillard is still a top 10-ish player in the league, but it’s unclear how much longer he’ll remain in his prime. Three-to-four picks, Herro and additional salary could be enough to start a conversation with Portland.

The fit is perfect as you don’t necessarily need a player better than Jimmy Butler, but you do want a better scorer. A trio of Butler, Lillard and Bam Adebayo could make some noise in the East. It’s worth noting that Lillard has ties with Butler and Adebayo from their time with Team USA.

This is all speculation at the end of the day, and we all know how loyal Lillard is to Portland. A lot would have to change between now and this summer for this to become a real possibility. But the smoke is already out there and, as the Heat gets set to start a playoff series against the NBA’s best team, this could be something for Heat fans to look forward to. Or, at least, day dream about.

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