Nikola Jovic may be one of the players who leaves the Miami Heat if they complete a trade for Damian Lillard, but the 20-year-old probably hasn’t had a lot of time to think about that this offseason.
Jovic represented Serbia at the 2023 FIBA World Cup and also played for the Heat during Summer League action after his 2022-23 NBA season was impacted by a back injury.
He was recently asked if his busy summer helped distract him from all the Lillard trade speculation involving the Heat.
“Yeah, it did,” Jovic said to the Miami Herald. “It did help me for sure. You just concentrate on other things. I was just so concentrated on basketball there that I didn’t have time to think about what’s going to happen. It’s a business. So what happens happens. But of course, right now when I’m [in Miami] and more people talk about it, it’s different than when I was there and just playing and being in the game all the time.”
Jovic last month said he would like to stay with Miami, which has been trying to acquire Lillard for almost three months since he requested a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers. It remains unknown if the Trail Blazers are looking to acquire Jovic or if he will be needed to help facilitate a bigger deal.
Portland reportedly is looking for young talent as part of a return if it does part with its franchise player, and the No. 27 overall pick from the 2022 NBA Draft fits that bill. He appeared in 15 games for the Heat in the 2022-23 regular season and averaged 5.5 points per game while playing more than 13 minutes per contest. He also made seven brief appearances in the playoffs.
The Miami organization was seemingly very impressed with his play for Serbia at the World Cup, where he shot better than 56 percent from the field in eight games for the tournament runner-up.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said it was a “marvelous” opportunity for the young player while also mentioning his Summer League experiences. In addition, executive Adam Simon said, “We are extremely happy with Nikola’s performances at the World Cup.”
The comments may have been a way to boost Jovic’s trade value, but they also could indicate there’s a bigger role in store for him this season if he does remain with the Heat.
Miami hasn’t been able to add much to its roster while waiting for a Lillard deal to come to fruition, so it will be looking for contributions from other role players after losing Gabe Vincent and Max Strus this offseason. Based on his summertime results, Jovic looks like he could be one of those players.