The Heat did add guard Josh Richardson this offseason, but the team missed out on affordable free agents and lost some key players from the 2022-23 season’s roster.
“In Miami, meanwhile, Heat officials who so badly want to land Lillard can certainly relate to the stagnant state of affairs,” Amick wrote. “But the Heat’s dilemma is different than that of the [Los Angeles] Clippers, who could roll the ball out with this roster next season and still feel reasonably good about their road ahead. The Heat already said goodbye to Gabe Vincent (the Lakers) and Max Strus (Cleveland) in free agency after their Finals run, meaning the idea of losing key contributors like Caleb Martin, or young talents like Nikola Jović and Jaime Jaquez Jr., would only further limit their title-contending prospects.
“That’s where the slow pace of the Heat-Blazers talks has made it even harder to reach a deal point. Miami has already missed out on so many affordable free agents who might have come its way had the Lillard addition already been made — like Taurean Prince, for example, before he went to the Lakers. In light of that, there’s even greater internal interest in retaining as many role players as possible. As has been widely reported, a Heat deal would likely include Tyler Herro (who would likely go to a third team) and Duncan Robinson.”
While Miami would love to add Lillard, a seven-time All-NBA selection, it doesn’t want to jeopardize all of its depth to do so. It has been reported that Portland is looking for four first-round draft picks, one to two young players and salary filler in exchange for the star point guard.
Portland could hold onto Lillard until it receives an offer it likes, but it could create some animosity between the star guard and the franchise.
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.
The Heat drafted Jovic in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft and Jacquez in the first round of the 2023 draft. Both players are on affordable rookie deals, and they are also under contract for multiple seasons.
While that may make them interesting to the Blazers, Miami certainly would prefer to keep them to attempt to contend for a title, especially after losing two key rotational pieces in Vincent and Strus.
Ultimately, the Heat may be able to get Lillard for a price that is better for them if there isn’t another suitor for the seven-time All-Star in the open market.
The Heat made the NBA Finals last season despite Herro playing in just one playoff game due to a hand injury. If the team’s biggest loss is moving off the former Sixth Man of the Year, it would make a deal for Lillard much easier to do.