Report: Jimmy Butler recruiting Damian Lillard to Miami Heat'
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Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler reportedly is recruiting Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard to Miami this offseason.

Getting Lillard in a potential deal seems to be Miami’s priority this offseason. Miami was linked to Bradley Beal, but the Washington Wizards dealt Beal to the Phoenix Suns to allow him to team up with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker.

“Nonetheless, the Wizards close the Beal Era jaggedly, horribly,” The Athletic’s David Aldridge wrote. “Miami has clearly prioritized getting Damian Lillard from Portland, with Jimmy Butler a central part of the Heat’s recruiting pitch. While Washington wanted the multiple first-rounders the Heat were offering, it didn’t matter; Beal wanted to play in Phoenix. His wife and her family are from California, and K.D. and Booker are a smidge more potent offensively than Jimmy Buckets and Bam Adebayo. The Wizards couldn’t stay in a holding pattern; unwilling to wait on the Heat, they turned to Phoenix, which our Shams Charania first reported had gotten into the sweepstakes seriously on Saturday.”

Butler recruiting Lillard is a good sign for the Heat as they try to add to a core that made the NBA Finals in the 2022-23 season. However, the team needs Portland to be willing to deal arguably the best player in the franchise’s history to make anything happen.

During the 2022-23 season, Lillard was great for the Blazers, but the team failed to make the play-in tournament in the Western Conference. The seven-time All-Star averaged 32.2 points and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Portland could look to build around Lillard once again, and it has a major trade asset to do so with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. If that becomes the case, then Miami and Butler may be out of luck.

However, the Heat seem to be confident that they can pry Lillard away from the franchise that drafted him.

The Heat would likely need to move on from draft capital and potentially a young player like Tyler Herro in a deal for Lillard, as Portland would be entering a rebuild if it traded away the star guard.

Miami could also use veteran Kyle Lowry’s salary to help match contracts in a potential deal. Lowry is entering the final season of a three-year deal in the 2023-24 campaign.

Butler and the Heat have made the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the last four seasons, reaching the NBA Finals twice.

The Heat star recruiting Lillard could be a sign that he thinks the seven-time All-NBA selection is the missing piece the team needs in order to capture an NBA title with this core.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.