Although Damian Lillard’s top priority is to help build a championship-caliber roster with the Portland Trail Blazers, he said recently that if he were traded that the Miami Heat would be an appealing destination.
During an interview with Showtime’s The Last Stand, host Brian Custer asked Lillard which among the Heat, Knicks, Celtics and Nets would be the most ideal hypothetical trade destinations.
“Miami obviously,” Lillard quickly replied. “Bam is my dog.”
Lillard also mentioned the Brooklyn Nets as the other “obvious one” because “Mikal Bridges is my dog, too” before adding that both the Heat and Nets “have capable rosters.”
That was a key point of Lillard’s throughout the appearance and in various other media interviews after Portland’s season: He wants to play on a roster ready to compete for a championship. The Heat, having made the NBA Finals in two of the last four years, certainly qualify. However, Lillard said that if the Heat, down 2-1 to the Denver Nuggets after Wednesday night’s Game 3 loss, were to win the Finals that he would have a problem joining a team coming off a championship.
“If Miami wins the championship, that definitely ain’t happening,” Lillard said.
At the end of the season, Lillard told reporters that he isn’t interested in a rebuild or playing with more rookies. The Trail Blazers have the third pick in this month’s draft, and will have an opportunity to draft either Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller — two highly-touted prospects — or could trade the pick for veteran help.
“I think I’ve made it clear what my wishes are. I want to have the opportunity to win in Portland, and right now we’ve got an opportunity asset-wise to build a team that can compete,” Lillard said after the season. “That would be the No. 1 thing, but if we can’t do that, then obviously, like I’ve said for months now, then it’s a separate conversation that we would have to have.”
Lillard repeated to Custer that he expects to be in Portland when next season begins and that he’s “participating in trying to build what we need to build, and that’s where I am.”
Lillard, 32, averaged a career-high 32.2 points this past season. He’s due to make $45.6 million, $48.8 million and $58.5 million over the next three seasons, and has a $63.2 million player option in 2026-27.