Many fans in South Florida are frustrated by the outcome, but as more information emerges, it’s becoming clear that the Heat and Portland Trail Blazers were never on the same page in negotiations.
During an initial call, the Blazers even asked the Heat for Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo, according to a report.
“The Blazers and Heat had multiple conversations in July, but the sides never engaged in substantive negotiations, according to those sources,” wrote The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick. “In an initial call, the Blazers asked the Heat for Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo. The Heat came to believe that the Blazers had little to no interest in engaging in a deal with them, and as much as Lillard and [Aaron] Goodwin wished that the Blazers would attempt to satisfy his wish, Portland refused. As the summer progressed, Lillard wanted the Blazers to simply try to find a deal with Miami, but those wishes, in his mind, also went unfulfilled.”
Both Butler and Adebayo are thought to be virtually untouchable by many fans. The fact that the Blazers even asked about acquiring one of them in exchange for Lillard was perhaps an early signal that Portland and Miami weren’t going to find much common ground in trade talks overall.
Now, Lillard will find himself with the Milwaukee Bucks in the upcoming season, a destination he reportedly grew open to after talks between the Heat and Blazers didn’t progress.
Sources to @andscape: With Miami talks going nowhere, agent Aaron Goodwin privately told the Bucks and Nets 10 days ago that Dame would be interested in a deal there. The Raptors were a real contender to land the ex-Blazers star, but ultimately Bucks got it done per Woj report.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) September 27, 2023
Lillard, a seven-time All-Star who averaged 32.2 points per game last season, arguably couldn’t have landed in a more inconvenient spot for the Heat. In addition to losing out on his services, Miami will now have to go to war against him in the Eastern Conference as helps lead a loaded Milwaukee team.
On the bright side, the Heat do have some other options they can explore from a roster improvement standpoint, with Jrue Holiday reportedly on the team’s radar after Wednesday’s trade news.
As things currently stand, Miami’s trio of Butler, Adebayo and Tyler Herro will headline the roster going into the 2023-24 season. While the Heat are talented and gritty enough to make some noise in the Eastern Conference once again, there’s no denying that some of the East’s better teams have improved this offseason in ways the Heat haven’t.
That’s why Miami’s interest in a player like Holiday may be worth keeping an eye on.
The Heat will start their campaign in less than a month, giving Pat Riley and company a short window of time to make some moves if they want to do so before their season opener.