The other day, former Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce said that if the Miami Heat end up trading for Damian Lillard, they won’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs or perhaps even reach the postseason.
He has now doubled down on that stance, saying the Heat simply wouldn’t be a contender with Lillard because of the depth they would likely have to get rid of to land him.
Paul Pierce doubles down and says Miami isn’t a contender with or without Dame:
“That don’t make you a contender when you get to the Finals.”
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) July 14, 2023
“To acquire a player like that, you’re gonna lose so much of the other pieces you had that helped you get to where you needed to go,” Pierce said of possibly getting Lillard. “The team, with those pieces, yeah they made the Finals, but people seem to forget that team was a play-in team. That don’t make you a contender when you get to the Finals.”
The Heat struggled all through this past regular season, as they had massive trouble scoring enough points to win games in bunches. They were the only team to average less than 110 points a game during the season, and in particular, their 3-point shooting was anemic.
But once the Heat got there, everything changed. Suddenly, they didn’t have problems scoring enough points to win, as they ditched the heavily favored Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, then pushed aside the New York Knicks to face the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite nearly blowing a 3-0 series lead there, they dominated Game 7 in Boston to reach the championship series.
Lillard has made it clear that Miami is his preferred destination. But it looks like the negotiations between Miami and the Portland Trail Blazers will drag on, as the latter wants to get as big a return as possible.
The issue with trading for a big star such as Lillard is always the price. The team that receives such a player has to make sure it still has enough supporting and complementary players to field a very strong team, and sometimes that simply isn’t possible.
The Phoenix Suns, for instance, gave up two very good pieces in Cameron Johnson and Mikal Bridges to get Kevin Durant in February, and they then jettisoned Chris Paul in favor of Bradley Beal, which leaves them with three stars but very little depth.