The Miami Heat spent this summer looking to acquire perennial All-Star guard Damian Lillard, and they likely thought they would end up with him, as did much of the rest of the NBA.
Guard Tyler Herro’s name often came up as a player who was going to be jettisoned for Lillard. But in text messages that were just leaked, Herro said he wanted to stay in Miami and get the team and the city a championship ring alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
This was in the middle of the trade rumors. He wants that ring for the city pic.twitter.com/q1HJyhSyXt
— Austin (@ChefTrillie) October 16, 2023
Last season, the Heat had major issues during the regular season. They finished with a mediocre 44-38 record and were the only team to average under 110 points a game, which led many to predict instant death for them in the play-in tournament.
But they won their final play-in tournament contest, then upset the heavily favored Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. Miami’s magic carpet ride ended in the NBA Finals when it lost to the Denver Nuggets in five games, and it was clear the team needed a major blood transfusion of offensive firepower.
Lillard was seen as the player who could get the job done in that regard. But in late September, the Portland Trail Blazers sent him to the Bucks, who are now considered by many to be the favorites to win the championship.
Veteran guard Jrue Holiday was sent to Portland in the Lillard trade and immediately made available, but to add insult to injury, the Heat also missed out on Holiday, as he ended up with the rival Boston Celtics.
The Heat will now need to depend on internal improvement from young players such as big man Nikola Jovic and rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. in order to remain competitive in the Eastern Conference. They will also need to find a way to regain their 3-point shooting prowess — they were 27th in 3-point shooting percentage last season but were first in that category the year prior.