Damian Lillard was finally traded, but not to the Miami Heat. Instead, the seven-time All-Star will join forces with Giannis Antetokounmpo on the Milwaukee Bucks. Where do the Heat go from here? The AllUCanHeat staff got together to talk about what’s next.
Who do you blame for the Heat’s failure to trade for Damian Lillard? Pat Riley? Joe Cronin? Lillard and Aaron Goodwin? Someone else?
Noah Decker: Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s tempting to say that Joe Cronin and the Trail Blazers front office are to blame. Lillard gave the franchise his all for 11 seasons, so they had a certain moral obligation to do right by him. Reports say that Portland never circled back to Miami after more teams showed interest, so it’s hard to blame Miami’s front office. Because Antetokounmpo put pressure on the Bucks with his recent statements, the Bucks took the risk of possibly trading for a disgruntled star. It seems like a huge win for the Bucks.
Azam Masood: It’s hard to completely fault Miami if Portland truly, utterly refused to cooperate with them, but you can only grasp so many caveats for every superstar who’s asked out, expressed interest in Miami, and then ended up elsewhere. Maybe as details come out, we’ll have a clearer picture of why this didn’t coalesce in Miami’s favor, but today was simply not a good day for the team.
Alex Villasis: It’s tough to evaluate since there were reports that Portland did not tell Miami what they wanted when Miami was willing to expand the deal to acquire Lillard. But with a recent report from the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson that Miami did not up their offer, Miami appeared to leave Portland in a “take it or leave it” scenario. I can see Miami not wanting to surrender every asset for Lillard given his age and the money he’s due towards the end of his deal, but we are talking about one of the most explosive scorers to ever play this game who wanted to be in Miami. To add onto that, Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes reported that Jimmy Butler went to the front office to let them know that Lillard should be the main target in the offseason. After it was relayed that Portland wanted to get a deal done before camp, Miami should have at least made another call to try and land Lillard in Miami.
Stephanie Meadows: To be honest, for me, it’s a mix. I think a huge part of the backlash to this trade was the difference between the public opinion on Dame and the actual result of the trade. Giannis making it known about how he was feeling with the Milwaukee Bucks organization added pressure for them to get the support around their superstar that they needed/Antetokounmpo wanted, and now he got it. So it’s a win-win for the Bucks. On the other side of things, Damian Lillard made it clear that the Heat was his preferred destination. When reports came out that the Trail Blazers never circled back to the Heat after more teams showed interest, it made me believe it wasn’t ever going to be in the cards. I think that the Heat did not have enough superstar assets to make the Lillard trade work, and Dame publicly making noise destroyed any trade leverage Portland had to bring in stars. I do believe Portland’s management is more responsible for the Heat’s lost opportunity. But I do wish the Heat showed a little bit more urgency to get the deal done.