Report: Miami Heat had chances to sign at least 5 players due to Damian Lillard situation, still have 3 others waiting

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Derrick Jones Jr. reportedly passed on a possible reunion with the Miami Heat to instead sign with the Dallas Mavericks this offseason in part because Damian Lillard has not yet landed with the Heat.

The 26-year-old, who played for Miami from the 2017-18 season through the 2019-20 campaign, is reportedly among a handful of players who chose teams other than the Heat because they could no longer wait for a verdict on the Lillard situation. That list includes Torrey Craig (signed with the Chicago Bulls), Dario Saric (Golden State Warriors), Dennis Smith Jr. (Brooklyn Nets) and Nerlens Noel (Sacramento Kings).

The report, which comes from Five Reasons Sports, also names other players — Christian Wood, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Goran Dragic — who are patiently waiting to see if there is still a chance to join the Heat if Lillard arrives.

Miami Heat

Jones averaged 7.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in 133 regular season contests for the Heat and was part of the team that lost the 2020 NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers, as he appeared in 15 playoff games. He played the last two seasons for the Bulls.

The Heat have been hamstrung by their pursuit of Lillard this offseason, losing players like Gabe Vincent and Max Strus while adding few replacements as they try to acquire the 33-year-old All-Star. Lillard requested a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers last month.

Trade negotiations have seemingly gone nowhere so far, with the Trail Blazers reportedly having “no interest” in making a deal with the Heat despite them reportedly being Lillard’s only acceptable destination.

Though head coach Erik Spoelstra has maintained a positive outlook about the roster heading into the 2023-24 NBA season, the Heat have to consider themselves fortunate that there are players as solid as Wood, Oubre and former Miami fan favorite Dragic still available on the market and reportedly willing to consider joining the team.

One NBA executive said Wood is wise to wait to see what happens with the Heat before signing with another interested team like the Los Angeles Lakers. Wood and Oubre have been linked to the Heat for some time now, and Dragic has said his No. 1 desire is to return to Miami after previously playing more than six seasons there.

Training camp is a little more than a month away, so there is still time for the Heat to add Lillard and others. But each day that goes by creates a bigger risk that some of them may have no choice but to play somewhere else.

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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.