The Miami Heat remain the most motivated team to trade for Damian Lillard, but the Portland Trail Blazers are unimpressed by their offer.
Miami’s package is built around Tyler Herro, who at 23 years old is entering the first year of a four-year, $130 million extension that pays him $27 million this season. To take back Lillard’s $45.6 million salary, the Heat would also have to include either Duncan Robinson or Kyle Lowry. That decision is likely left up to the Blazers, who could opt to take on less annual money over more years, or Lowry’s larger, expiring deal.
But Herro is not a great fit in Portland, which already has a lot invested into guards Shaedon Sharpe, Anfernee Simons and third-overall pick Scoot Henderson. A third team would likely need to be involved to take Herro in exchange for picks or a young player at a position of need for the Blazers.
Including more than two teams in a trade can be complicated — a lot of competing interests, egos and leveraging. There is an easy way, however, for the Heat to improve their offer. Any Lillard package will include draft pick compensation, but how many picks the Heat have made available in their initial offer is unclear.
How many picks they can include depends on the protections on a lottery-protected, 2025 first-round pick Miami owes the Oklahoma City Thunder. Here’s more from ESPN:
"If Miami instead agreed to send Oklahoma City an unprotected pick in 2026 — probably preferable to the Thunder if the Heat are landing Lillard and therefore likely to be a championship contender in 2024-25 — that would free up the inclusion of a 2024 first-round pick to go with two in 2028 and 2030. Miami could then also offer swaps in 2025, 2027 and 2029."
As noted in the piece, the Heat have already agreed to a trade with the Thunder, sending Victor Oladipo and draft compensation to Oklahoma City in a salary dump. It’s possible that Miami already adjusted the pick protections as part of that deal.
Other teams, like the Nets, Knicks and Spurs, can offer more draft compensation than the Heat, but Lillard’s preference is Miami and the Heat are the only team to have reportedly made an offer. It’s unclear how many picks that offer includes, but getting up to three of their own first-round picks, three swaps and one or two picks that come from a Herro deal would amount to quite a haul for Portland.