Miami Heat insider details how trading for Damian Lillard could jeopardize potential trade for Giannis Antetokounmpo

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The Miami Heat have been in pursuit of Damian Lillard seemingly all offseason, but now that Giannis Antetokounmpo reportedly could be willing to leave the Milwaukee Bucks, an insider speculates that the Heat may reassess their options.

“Make the move for Lillard, and it could mean moving off Tyler Herro, who just happens to be a native of the Milwaukee area and potentially could be put into play for a potential trade for Antetokounmpo (yes, a lot of ‘potentially’ in there),” wrote Ira Winderman. “A deal for Lillard also likely would cost the Heat potential future first-round picks and prospects that could be put into an alternate (Antetokounmpo?) deal.”

Herro has long been considered the primary piece the Heat want to include in a trade that would land Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers, either directly with them or as part of a multiteam deal. But if the 23-year-old would have an appeal to his hometown team, he could be the key to acquiring Antetokounmpo instead.

The two-time NBA MVP has increased speculation that he is looking to leave the Bucks with his ability to sign an extension with them coming up fast. Next month, the 28-year-old will become eligible to extend his current deal that includes the 2024-25 season with a player option for the 2025-26 campaign.

But the superstar told the New York Times he will not entertain the idea of an extension until he is certain the Bucks are committed to winning another championship. Milwaukee won the 2021 NBA title with Antetokounmpo named Finals MVP.

Even the slightest hint of one of the best players in the NBA maybe becoming available has ignited rumors throughout the league, even though he also previously has expressed a desire to play his entire career with one team.

“Next summer it would make more sense for both parties. Even then, I don’t know,” Antetokounmpo said. “I would not be the best version of myself if I don’t know that everybody’s on the same page, everybody’s going for a championship, everybody’s going to sacrifice time away from their family like I do. And if I don’t feel that, I’m not signing.”

Ironically, the Heat upset the top-seeded Bucks in the 2023 playoffs on their way to reaching the NBA Finals, which they lost to the Denver Nuggets. Since then, Lillard requested a trade out of Portland with a reported desire to wind up in Miami, and it’s been thought that adding him to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo would allow the Heat to keep contending for championships.

But talks with the Trail Blazers have ground to a halt and show no signs of rekindling. Miami reportedly is willing to offer several first-round picks — with Herro going to a third team for assets — expiring contracts, a young player and potentially second-round picks and draft swaps, but Portland to date has “no interest” in making a deal with Miami. However, that could change in a hurry if the Trail Blazers fear the Heat will move on to Antetokounmpo instead.

Lillard recently confirmed that he did make a trade request, with one insider explaining what makes Miami appealing to the 33-year-old. But it could turn out that the younger and more decorated Antetokounmpo could be more appealing to the Heat than Lillard is.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.