Report: Damian Lillard has ‘serious interest’ in joining Miami Heat

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Although the NBA’s 2023 offseason is young, there’s certainly a feeling among fans that the Miami Heat need to pounce as soon as the next opportunity to make a worthwhile addition presents itself.

All eyes have been on Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard for quite some time now, and Heat star Jimmy Butler seemingly wants Lillard in Miami as much as anyone.

As things currently stand, the veteran point guard is still showing loyalty to the organization that drafted him over a decade ago. But that’s not stopping him from having “serious interest” in joining the Heat, which is a possibility that seemingly can’t be dismissed.

“But if there isn’t a meeting of the Trail Blazers minds in Portland this week, and if the roster upgrades that are proving so difficult to pull off don’t come to fruition when the calendar turns to July and the crucial week that follows, it’s all eyes on Miami from there,” wrote Sam Amick of The Athletic. “Lillard indeed has serious interest in joining the Heat, who would surely love to pair him with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. If it reaches this point — and there’s still an ‘if’ here considering all the times Lillard chose not to ask out before — Lillard’s wishes would matter a great deal because of the enormity of his contract.

“With four seasons and a combined $216 million left on his deal (including a player option worth $63 million in the 2026-27 season), the prospect of a team trading for Lillard against his wishes is hard to fathom. So while he doesn’t have the kind of no-trade clause that played such a pivotal part in the recent Bradley Beal trade from Washington to Phoenix, his leverage in the situation is similar.”

Lillard’s 11th season with the Blazers just ended. All things considered, it was one of his best. He averaged 32.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.

The seven-time All-Star has established himself as one of the league’s best scorers and playmakers, and he’d add an element to the Heat offense that’s been missing for years. Lillard will be 33 by the time the 2023-24 regular season begins, but he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Although Miami’s 2022-23 roster was good enough to get the team to the NBA Finals, there was a clear talent gap when it had to face the Denver Nuggets for the title. The Heat, of course, lost that series in five games, and some NBA executives have already chalked up the team’s run to the NBA Finals as being due in part to a “fluke.”

Pat Riley may be open to the idea of running the same roster back if the team can’t add a big piece, but most outsiders would likely agree that the squad needs more help.

The coming days and weeks should provide more clarity on what Lillard’s future holds. If he lands with a new team this offseason, it seems like there’s a good chance it will be Miami.

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Jason has covered the NBA for multiple years and has plenty of memories involving the Miami Heat. He expects there will be winning basketball in South Florida for years to come.