The Miami Heat will likely have to hear about Damian Lillard many more times whether they like it or not.
There are some people who believe that the former Portland Trail Blazers superstar was fortunate to have been traded to the Milwaukee Bucks instead of his preferred destination, the Heat. Matt Barnes said as much during a recent interview with TMZ Sports, explaining that the guard may have better odds of winning a ring with his current team than he would’ve with Miami.
“I’m excited for Dame,” Barnes said. “Obviously he wanted to go to Miami. That didn’t happen, but for him to have the opportunity to win I think is the key and the goal, and him teaming up with Giannis [Antetokounmpo] is definitely gonna give him a great opportunity to win a championship.”
“I think probably even a better opportunity than he would had in Miami.”
Some Heat fans may take issue with the retired forward’s statement because Miami is only a few months removed from upsetting Milwaukee in the first round before making its way to the NBA Finals, where it lost to the Denver Nuggets.
The Heat were perhaps just one or two pieces away from bringing home the trophy for the first time since the LeBron James era. Lillard could have been the final piece of the puzzle, as his brilliance with the ball would have probably been what the doctor ordered for the offensively challenged Heat.
But as it turned out, the Blazers reportedly wanted nothing to do with Miami in trades talks for Lillard. Portland sent him to the Bucks, where the seven-time All-Star will get a fresh start alongside a different star.
Barnes seems to think Milwaukee’s duo of Lillard and Antetokounmpo will be a good recipe for success. After all, the two-time MVP was already able to deliver a championship to the Bucks in 2021.
Defense may be a concern for the team now that Jrue Holiday is gone, but the offensive upgrade could prove to be more impactful than the expected regression on the other end of the court. It’s also worth noting that Milwaukee still has several quality defenders.
It remains to be seen which of the two teams will win a title first. But Jimmy Butler, who had the Bucks’ number last season, believes his squad has enough to make some noise in the title race.
“I am happy for Dame … but I’m still gonna be me. I’m gonna go beat Dame, Giannis, and Adrian Griffin on our way to a title.”@JimmyButler sits down with @TaylorRooks to discuss the Damian Lillard trade and expectations for this upcoming season pic.twitter.com/VkJSDRBGhm
— NBA TV (@NBATV) October 2, 2023
The confidence from the six-time All-Star should help Heat fans get over the missed opportunity of trading for Lillard.