Josh Richardson says the Miami Heat will be fine without Damian Lillard and can now enter training camp next week with clarity.
On Wednesday afternoon, Josh Richardson’s phone lit up with an alert. Damian Lillard was finally getting traded, but not to the Miami Heat. Like everyone else, Richardson had to check social media to make sure the alert was real.
It was. Lillard was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team deal that did not include the Heat, Lillard’s preferred destination. Despite the disappointment of not adding a talent like Lillard, at least Richardson — who was never at risk of being included in a deal because he signed a new contract this offseason — and the rest of his Heat teammates can enter training camp next week with clarity.
“I don’t know if other moves are going to be made or whatever is going to happen around the league,” Richardson said on the Locked On Heat podcast. “But I know our team was tied to that move a lot so knowing that it didn’t happen, the guys here are the guys here so that’s how we’re going to go into camp.
“It’s done. It’s set,” he said. “We’re going into training camp and everybody knows what it is.”
A Lillard trade had the potential to shake up a roster that remains largely unchanged from last season’s NBA Finals run. Now players like Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson will return and compete for spots in Miami’s rotation. Richardson, along with backup center Thomas Bryant and first-round pick Jaime Jaquez Jr. stand as the Heat’s only offseason additions.
Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo’s spots in the starting lineup are firm, but the remaining three spots are up for competition. Lowry is the only true point guard on the roster but came off the bench during the Heat’s most successful run last season. Herro has experience running the offense and could start as the team’s nominal point guard.
The Heat still have two open roster spots and are a team to watch for free agent point guard Cameron Payne, league sources told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.
As for the other spots, Kevin Love is the incumbent starting power forward but could be pushed by Haywood Highsmith or Nikola Jovic. Caleb Martin and Josh Richardson are in the mix for a starting job, as well. Other contributors could emerge with a strong showing at training camp in Boca Raton next week.
With Lillard headed to Milwaukee, the Heat missed out on a star that could have transformed them into unquestioned favorites in the East overnight. Instead, they’ll have to find solutions within the current group and try to make another improbable run like last season.
“Either way,” Richardson said, “myself and the team are going to be fine.”