Welcome to the “Burning Questions” Miami Heat mailbag!
As always, you can submit your questions to me on Twitter/Threads @wcgoldberg or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alright, fire away!
Something has to give for a trade to happen. The Heat and Blazers are in a standoff, with Miami believing it has the only offer and Portland wanting more. Unless the market somehow changes, this is where we’ll be.
The start of training camp, the regular season and the trade deadline provide built-in checkpoints on the NBA calendar. The Heat hope they don’t have to wait long enough to see either one without Lillard. That said, I still don’t see them raising the offer from what appears to be Tyler Herro, another contract (either Kyle Lowry or Duncan Robinson), and two first-round picks unless they are forced to negotiate against another team. Pat Riley has done this too long to start negotiating against himself, and Lillard and his agency have made it clear he wants to be in Miami. The only leverage the Trail Blazers have is time.
That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear something from Lillard’s side soon. As I wrote in my column on Thursday, Lillard has tried to be the nice guy while also getting what he wants, but that may no longer be realistic. If Lillard truly wants to come to Miami, he will have to take a public, offensive position. An interview to apply pressure, the threat of a holdout, something.
Here’s the problem: I’m not sure what else the Heat could offer that would change Portland’s position. Would Blazers GM Joe Cronin suddenly relent if the Heat threw in Jaime Jaquez Jr., Nikola Jovic or Caleb Martin? It would be surprising if there inclusion is what was holding up a deal.
Miami needs Portland to engage in order to make a deal happen. According to multiple reports, the two sides have not had any meaningful dialogue in quite some time. They did not meet in Las Vegas, despite Lillard’s side hoping they would get together. Rather, Cronin used his platform during Summer League to threaten that a trade could take months. He is being stubborn.
The Heat want to get a third team involved to turn Herro into assets that make more sense for the Blazers, who already have enough young guards on the roster. But that’s like buying a birthday present for someone you hardly know. If Cronin decides to work with the Heat, chances are that an acceptable deal for all involved would get done sooner.
I’d be surprised if the Blazers limited Lillard’s minutes at all, considering that their public stance has been that they want to keep him.
(However untrue that may be. Based on their decisions to trade veterans for picks, select Scoot Henderson at No. 3 and not make any meaningful win-now additions in the offseason, this is a team that is acting like it’s ready for a post-Lillard future.)
Deciding to reduce Lillard’s role because of a youth movement would remove percieved leverage. But that doesn’t mean Lillard can’t hold out himself. Most people around the league don’t expect Lillard to do that (“He’s a consumant professional” is a cliche thrown around a lot) but proloning his trade request could call for desperate measures.
Having been mentioned in trade rumors for the third summer in a row, Herro recently wiped mention of the Miami Heat from his social media accounts. For Herro to be happy on the Heat next season would require the rebuilding of burnt bridges. If he’s on the roster, I’d expect him to show up and play, but the Heat are intent on adding a star to the roster to maximize Jimmy Butler’s title window. Herro is their best trade chip they are willing to part with, and he knows it.
As I wrote for The Ringer last season, Jimmy Butler almost went with a Jheri curl instead of the dreadlocks. While I would not be opposed to another fun hair style, Jimmy is too canny to tell the same joke twice. If he does find a way to troll everyone at media day again, I suspect it’ll be in a different way.