Dame to Miami 👀 pic.twitter.com/jlD801caqY
— Heat Nation (@HeatNationCom) June 7, 2023
“Everybody keeps saying, ‘Damian Lillard is gonna be traded to the Knicks,'” Custer said. “‘Damian Lillard’s gonna be traded to the Heat. Damian Lillard should be traded to the Celtics. Damian Lillard’s gonna be traded to the Nets.’
“If one of those trades went through, out of those teams, which one would you be like, ‘Ah, that’s not too bad’?”
Lillard responded quickly, naming the Heat as the obvious choice, with the chance to be teammates with Bam Adebayo seemingly enticing.
“Miami obviously,” Lillard said. “Miami is the obvious one. And Bam is my dog. Bam is my dog, for real. But, I mean, I think Miami the obvious one. Brooklyn is another obvious one ’cause Mikal Bridges is my dog too.”
The Trail Blazers were 33-49 during the 2022-23 regular season and did not make the playoffs for a second straight campaign. They had made the playoff eight years in a row before that, ever since Lillard’s second NBA season, and reached the Western Conference Finals in 2019, where they were swept by the Golden State Warriors.
Lillard has said he is not interested in a rebuild in Portland, but the organization seems committed to building around him. However, the 32-year-old could be looking to win an NBA title while he would still be a major contributor.
The Heat have made a surprising run to the 2023 NBA Finals, where they are even with the Denver Nuggets heading into Game 3 on Wednesday. Adebayo is off to a great start in the series, and Jimmy Butler helped Miami advance by winning MVP of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics.
Adding Lillard to a core of Adebayo and Butler could keep the Heat as legitimate contenders for the next few seasons. Miami could have a need at point guard with Gabe Vincent about to become a free agent.
Vincent has certainly increased his market value during the playoffs. He led the Heat with 23 points in the 111-108 win against the Nuggets in Game 2 and is Miami’s third-leading scorer in the playoffs behind Butler and Adebayo.
Portland did not win the NBA Draft Lottery but did receive the No. 3 pick and could add an impact player there to speed up its improvement. But the path Lillard takes could determine a lot more about the futures of the Trail Blazers, Heat and NBA as a whole.