Jaime Jaquez Jr. is brand new to the NBA, but the Miami Heat rookie has already gotten a taste of what it’s like to be involved in trade rumors.
The 22-year-old heard his name mentioned in lots of trade chatter this offseason surrounding Damian Lillard, who was dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this week as part of a blockbuster deal.
Jaquez recently spoke about his experience as a potential trade chip.
“I won’t lie, at first it was in the back of my head,” Jaquez said to the Miami Herald earlier this week. “Like what’s going to happen? Am I going to leave? You never know. But as we moved on and time went on, I just got really comfortable in my situation that whatever happens happens. I just believe it’s all a part of a bigger plan. Things happen for a reason. If I stay, great. If I get traded, it was fun while it lasted. But I try not to worry about that. I can only control what I can control.”
While Jaquez’s place with the Heat seems safer now than it did at the beginning of the week, there’s still a chance he’ll hear his name involved in more rumors in the future, especially if Miami pursues some other players via trade.
The rookie seems to have a very bright future ahead of him and would certainly love to spend it with the Heat. Miami drafted Jaquez with the No. 18 overall pick this year, giving him an exciting NBA landing spot after four seasons at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
UCLA had some special seasons during Jaquez’s time with the program and even made the Final Four in the 2020-21 campaign.
During the 2022-23 season, Jaquez averaged 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 31.7 percent from beyond the arc. He earned Player of the Year honors in his conference.
If the Heat don’t make any substantial roster changes before the trade deadline this season, they’re likely going to need to rely on internal development in order to challenge for the 2024 NBA title.
It’s unclear what type of role Jaquez will play this season, but if he can give the Heat more value than they’re expecting, that’s the type of surprise that could help Miami turn some heads in the Eastern Conference again.
Of course, when looking at the big picture, Jaquez’s long-term development is probably what excites the Heat the most about him. Miami has earned a reputation for getting the most out of its players, and there’s no reason to think that Jaquez will be any different.