All summer long, the Miami Heat and their fans have been waiting for the completion of some type of blockbuster trade that would bring Damian Lillard to South Florida. But little, if any, progress has been made toward such a deal.
But one thing that may be in Miami’s favor, at least according to one NBA executive, is that other teams aren’t exactly excited about the prospect of trading for Lillard.
“I don’t think anyone likes the idea of Dame coming in and forcing the Blazers’ hand like this, forcing them to take a deal from a team that does not have the assets,” one NBA front-office executive told Sean Deveney of Forbes. “That’s a bad precedent, and it is one we are seeing too much of. But if Dame had not said, ‘Miami or nothing,’ where else was Portland really going to go for a deal? Maybe Brooklyn? But where else? There’s not that many teams that are going to give you a bunch of players and picks for a 33-year-old who can’t stay healthy and has a giant contract sitting there.”
After years of being saddled with rosters that have’t been able to go far in the playoffs, Lillard asked the Portland Trail Blazers to trade him earlier this summer. He also made it clear that the Heat were the one team he preferred to be sent to.
“Of course, owners don’t want players picking their trade destination and shutting out the other 28 teams,” said the same executive. “But it was not anything Dame said or Aaron Goodwin said that shut down the market. That stuff didn’t help. But there weren’t teams lined up for him even before that.”
He is coming off arguably his best season yet — a season in which he put up 32.2 points and 7.3 assists a game. But the Blazers have gone with a youth movement, and they are years away from seriously contending for the NBA championship.
In Lillard’s 11 seasons with the team, it has reached the Western Conference Finals just once, and at age 33, his chances of winning his first world title are dwindling.
If he ever gets sent to the Heat for a reasonable trade package, especially one that wouldn’t include Bam Adebayo, he would likely be just what they need to have a great shot at winning their first ring since 2013.
Even though the Heat have been title contenders when healthy over the last four seasons, they have lacked offensive firepower. That deficiency has forced them to play from behind against teams such as the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers come playoff time. This past regular season, they were last in the NBA in points per game, and they struggled from behind the 3-point line.
Lillard is also one of the game’s feared players in crunch time, and a combo of him and Jimmy Butler would likely have many teams cowering in fear late in close games.