“We’ve always been in some form of contact with each other,” Lillard told Fox Sports. “And I said it, initially I was like, ‘I want to go to Miami.’ He was a big part of that. It didn’t happen. I’m here now. But our relationship will be the same. The same respect. It’s just something that didn’t happen. It was out of his control and mine.”
Back in September, the Bucks acquired Lillard in a three-team trade that involved the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns. Portland received Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, one first-round pick and two pick swaps in the trade. Meanwhile, the Suns acquired Grayson Allen, Keon Johnson, Jusuf Nurkic and Nassir Little.
He averaged 22.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game in 64 games played with the storied Heat franchise during the 2022-23 regular season (all starts). Butler also converted a career-high 53.9 percent of his field-goal attempts. Interestingly, the wing wasn’t named an All-Star last season.
Lillard is heading into his first season with the Bucks organization after spending over a decade playing for the Trail Blazers, who selected the 33-year-old with the No. 6 overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft.
The 6-foot-2 point guard averaged a career-high 32.2 points per game for the Trail Blazers during the 2022-23 regular season while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
During his 11 seasons with the Trail Blazers, Lillard earned seven All-Star appearances and seven All-NBA selections. He was also named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team back in 2021.
It’s unfortunate that the Heat weren’t able to land Lillard in a trade this offseason, seeing as how the team would likely be considered the favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the 2024 NBA Finals if it had the point guard on the roster.
But fresh off of an NBA Finals appearance, the Heat still project to be legitimate title contenders this season.