The Miami Heat may be able to quickly recover from losing out on Damian Lillard by pivoting to Jrue Holiday, who reportedly is going to be put on the market by the Portland Trail Blazers after they acquired him from the Milwaukee Bucks as part of the deal that sent Lillard east.
The report by Adrian Wojnarowski pointed to the Heat as a possible trade partner for Holiday.
Holiday arguably may not be the level of player that the seven-time All-Star is, but he is something that Lillard is not: an NBA champion, as he won one with the Bucks in 2021.
It could be a fortunate fallback position for the Heat, who were linked to Lillard ever since he requested a trade almost three months ago. But they could not entice the Trail Blazers to accept what they were offering and instead saw the 33-year-old end up with an Eastern Conference competitor.
Milwaukee was the No. 1 seed when it was eliminated by Miami in the first round of the playoffs last season, so the Bucks obviously were looking to improve not only to compete for another championship, but also to satisfy superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. He recently addressed reasons why he may not sign a contract extension to stay.
Losing part of their championship core in Holiday was a stiff price to pay for the Bucks, but it could eventually work out for the Heat if they can maintain some kind of relationship with the Trail Blazers after an offseason of getting nowhere on Lillard.
Portland also reportedly will receive Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, a first-round draft pick and pick swaps in the deal for Lillard that includes the Phoenix Suns.
Holiday has played 14 NBA seasons and averaged 19.3 points, 7.4 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game in the 2022-23 campaign, solid numbers that could benefit any team. He debuted in the NBA in the 2009-10 season with the Philadelphia 76ers, who also reportedly may be in play for him now.
The 33-year-old is a two-time All-Star and won Teammate of the Year last season for the third time in the past four seasons (Lillard coincidentally won the award for the 2020-21 campaign).
It is unknown if the Heat simply have nothing at all the Trail Blazers want in a trade or if Portland would be willing to more genuinely engage Miami in talks for Holiday.
Perhaps whatever foundation they were able to set in earlier discussions can be used to quickly make a different deal before the season starts.