One NBA insider believes that Damian Lillard always held out hope for a trade to the Miami Heat — perhaps even when there were indications that it wasn’t going to happen — in part because the Phoenix Suns expressed interest in Kyle Lowry.
Lillard was perhaps hoping that a three-team trade was going to come together that would have landed him in Miami while sending Lowry to Phoenix.
“I was told that Phoenix was very interested in Kyle Lowry. I think that’s why Dame always held out hope that Portland at last minute would go back to Miami with some potential offer on the table. Something that would send Lowry to Phoenix…It just never panned out” @ChrisBHaynes https://t.co/EyXd7rjBoe pic.twitter.com/Y8EggPFFjz
— Dru (@dru_star) September 29, 2023
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 landing with the Bucks is somewhat of a nightmare outcome for the Heat. In addition to losing out on his services, Miami will now have to deal with him playing for one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
It’s not too late for the Heat to make some roster improvements this offseason, but as things currently stand, the squad is going to enter the 2023-24 campaign with a roster that arguably hasn’t improved from last season.
That’s particularly troubling given the fact that some other contenders around the NBA — including Eastern Conference foes like the Bucks and Boston Celtics — have had big offseasons.
Lillard averaged 32.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game last season, and he’s now set to join forces with Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, who averaged 31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game himself.
The Heat did eliminate the Bucks in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs, but the upcoming season is obviously going to look very different on paper.
Ironically, if the Heat hadn’t defeated the Bucks in last season’s playoffs, there are no guarantees that Milwaukee would have been motivated to acquire Lillard this offseason. Miami’s series victory over Milwaukee may have created some unintended consequences.
At the end of the day, the Heat have done enough in recent years to prove to the NBA world that they can never be dismissed as contenders, but there’s no denying that it’s been a frustrating offseason in South Florida. Perhaps there will be new reasons for optimism in the near future.