If the Portland Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard decide to part ways this offseason, the Miami Heat are expected to have interest in trading for the seven-time All-Star, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
- Lillard’s future in Portland is unclear after the Trail Blazers missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
- Portland has attempted to rebuild around Lillard, and added veterans such as Jerami Grant, but they’ve also gone younger by trading away CJ McCollum and elevating Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe into bigger roles.
- In an earlier media session, the 32-year-old Lillard remarked that he isn’t interested in a rebuild at this stage of his career.
- Lillard averaged 32.2 points on 46.3% shooting (37.1% on 3s) and 7.3 assists this season.
What they’re saying
“I think the Heat are on the cusp of looking for another star maneuver,” Windhorst said on his podcast. “I would put them on the list for Dame Lillard if Dame ends up getting traded. If he goes to market, I think the Heat are on that list. I don’t know if they have enough. A lot of their offer would be built around Tyler Herro, who was just injured. I suspect, I don’t know for sure, just to be clear, I don’t know for sure if they’re going to offer him, but I suspect that would be the type of thing. That and draft picks.”
Can the Heat build a trade package?
As Windhorst points out, any trade package the Heat could cobble together would likely start with Tyler Herro and draft picks. The Heat wouldn’t trade Jimmy Butler in that deal, since it would defeat the point of this kind of win-now move, nor would they be expected to part with Bam Adebayo. The Heat were reluctant to include Adebayo in potential deals for Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell this last summer, and view him as the anchor to their defense.
In terms of matching salary, Herro and Duncan Robinson, plus draft picks, works. The question, however, is if that’s enough for the Trail Blazers. The Heat can potentially trade up to three future first-round picks (if they lift protections to one owed to OKC and stay out of the second luxury tax apron), plus swaps.
Is it enough?
Lillard is no-doubt still one of the NBA’s top scorers, but the money he is owed could force some teams away from negotiations. Lillard will make $45.6 million next season before an extension kicks in that pays him $58.5 million and $63.2 million when he’s 35 and 36 years old.
That’s a lot of money for a small guard who will likely be past his prime. Any team trading for Lillard will have to do so knowing they have maybe a two-year window and will be on the hook for one of the most expensive salaries in the league in three seasons.
Does that scare away a few would-be suitors and lower Portland’s asking price? It’s possible, and it’s likely the only scenario in which the Heat would have enough to get a deal done.