The Miami Heat could not pull off a Damian Lillard trade, with the Trail Blazers deciding instead to trade the star guard to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Ultimately, the Portland Trail Blazers decided not to trade Damian Lillard to the Miami Heat. Instead, the Blazers will trade Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks as part of a three-team deal with the Phoenix Suns, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported Wednesday.
The deal sends Lillard to Milwaukee, where he’ll join Giannis Antetokounmpo to form a dominant two-man game and establish the Bucks as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. The Trail Blazers will receive Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, a 2029 unprotected first-round pick from Milwaukee as well as swap rights in 2028 and 2030. The Suns will bolster their depth with Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson.
This is a disappointing result for the Miami Heat, who had been Lillard’s desired destination since the 33-year-old guard requested a trade on July 1. Since then, the Trail Blazers and Heat spoke about a trade only sparsely as tensions built up between the two organizations. After Lillard’s agent Aaron Goodwin reportedly warned teams not to trade for his client, the NBA sent a memo to all 30 teams in late July stating that any player, or his agent, who makes public or private comments indicating he won’t “fully perform the services called for under his player contract in the event of a trade” will be subject to discipline.
Portland revamped trade talks last week, including with teams such as the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls. The Bucks were also a motivated team, particularly after Antetokounmpo challenged the organization to make roster improvements before he decides whether to sign an extension next summer.
The Heat are now left without Lillard, who would have been an ideal fit with current stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Following last season’s NBA Finals run, the Heat lost Max Strus and Gabe Vincent in free agency. This summer they signed Josh Richardson and Thomas Bryant, and drafted Jaime Jaquez Jr. in the first round. It had been reported that Miami wasn’t “desperate” to acquire Lillard, who still has four years and $217 million remaining on his contract.
With Lillard off the table, the Heat could turn their attention to other trades or wait for the next star player to grow unhappy and request a trade from his current team. James Harden, who demanded a trade in July, remains in Philadelphia for the moment. There’s growing intrigue into what the Cleveland Cavaliers will do with Donovan Mitchell, who is reportedly unlikely to sign an extension to stay in Cleveland. The Trail Blazers will reportedly look to trade Holiday who, at 33, does not fit the team’s new timeline.
But now that the Lillard saga is complete, Miami can be patient with how it augments the roster. The Heat will begin training camp next week with clarity, but not with Lillard.