Everything we know about the Heat’s chase for Damian Lillard

Feb 6, 2023; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) gathers himself after a play in the second half against the Milwaukee Bucks at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 6, 2023; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) gathers himself after a play in the second half against the Milwaukee Bucks at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports /

Here’s our Miami Heat notebook, with intel surrounding the Heat’s chase for Damian Lillard:

One thing we do know is that Lillard is not going to be OK with a youth movement in Portland. Lillard, who turns 33 next month, has made that clear through public comments that have been reaffirmed by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst who said this week that, “Dame does not want a youth movement [and] wants to play with veterans.”

With that, the Trail Blazers are scanning the league to see what they could get for the No. 3 pick in Thursday’s draft. Names like O.G. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Jaylen Brown and others have come up, but there does not appear to be interest in Toronto or Boston. Meanwhile, sources told Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer that Portland is preparing to make a significant offer for Miami’s Bam Adebayo and LA’s Paul George. Fischer added that “Portland won’t trade the No. 3 pick unless it nets one of a several premium targets to pair with Damian Lillard.”

The Heat are not interested in trading Adebayo for Lillard, league sources confirmed with All U Can Heat.

Lillard has been to Portland’s draft workouts and is in contact with the front office. There’s a sense that they will try to work together to forge a path forward. But all eyes will be on what the Blazers do with the third overall pick. To pass up on a highly-touted prospect like Scoot Henderson, for instance, would necessitate acquiring one of the aforementioned “premium targets.”

According to Marc Stein, rival executives believe that the Clippers are gauging Paul George’s trade value ahead of Thursday’s draft. Should George be moved, it would appear that the Clippers would be entering a rebuild. Kawhi Leonard has one year remaining (player option for $48.8 million) on his contract after this season. If George is traded, there’s reason to believe the Clippers would listen to offers for Leonard.

Would acquiring George be enough to convince Lillard to remain in Portland? The Blazers wouldn’t make such a deal without Lillard’s blessing, so the assumption would be yes.

If the Blazers are not able to acquire a premium co-star, the most-likely outcome is that Lillard and the organization would agree to part ways. If they were to explore a trade, Lillard will have quite a bit of leverage in where he goes, according to league sources.

On a recent episode of “The Last Stand” podcast, Lillard told host Brian Custer that if he were to ever leave Portland, Miami and Brooklyn would be places he’d like to play. Lillard specifically mentioned wanting to play with the Heat’s Adebayo and Nets forward Mikal Bridges.

Lillard recently told

HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto

that winning a championship is “very important.”

"Of course it’s at the top of the list for me to win a championship. I don’t train and come into seasons thinking about anything more than wanting to win it this year."

  • If Lillard were to ask for a trade, there is momentum building toward the Miami Heat, not the Brooklyn Nets, being his preferred destination, according to multiple league sources. I talked more about this on a recent episode of the Locked On Heat podcast.
  • The Nets can trade up to 11 first-round picks and could theoretically build a more attractive trade package than the Heat. However the Heat, coming off an NBA Finals run, offer Lillard a better opportunity to win now.

    The Heat were hesitant to trade for Bradley Beal because of how his large contract would thrust them deep into the luxury tax and past the second tax apron. That would not be the case with Lillard, who is due $170.5 million over the next three seasons but is viewed as the level of star that could make the Heat favorites in the East. The Heat could offer a package built around Tyler Herro, one of Kyle Lowry or Duncan Robinson, and three future first-round picks.

    The question then becomes if the Blazers are happy enough with Miami’s offer to direct Lillard to where he wants to go, or if the Nets make an offer that they cannot refuse. How much influence does Lillard and his agent Aaron Goodwin ultimately have? These are the big questions lingering, but we are still a few steps from getting to that point.

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