Amid the Portland Trail Blazers star’s official trade request, his list of preferred destinations includes the Nets, who some believe have the best potential package to offer Portland. But Lillard is focused on getting traded to the Miami Heat, per Bleacher Report NBA insider Chris Haynes, who adds that Jimmy Butler approached Heat brass weeks ago to push for Lillard.
But the Blazers and Heat would “almost certainly” need a third team to help facilitate any potential deal, the Nets could end up being that third team.
“Look out for the Brooklyn Nets, potentially, to be a part of that whole process,” Haynes reported on NBA TV on July 1. “They might be the third team.”
Haynes did note that the Blazers’ front office won’t act solely on Lillards’ wishes.
“Front offices talking to Portland today were left with [the] impression that GM Joe Cronin is pursuing a star-level return package for Damian Lillard,” tweeted ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski. “And that Cronin plans to look well beyond the Miami Heat to find one.”
But, with a younger roster that might not even be considered among title contenders with Lillard, opting for Herro might be a better decision for Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks. Miami was 37-30 with Herro in the lineup this past season but did make it to the NBA Finals despite him suffering a broken hand in their first playoff game that put him on the shelf.
He was surely missed as the Denver Nuggets outscored Miami by roughly 8.0 points per game.
He would also be redundant on a Blazers roster that already has a pair of former first-round picks in Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe and just added the No. 3 overall pick of the 2023 NBA Draft in Scoot Henderson this offseason.
Proposed 3-Team Trade Lands Heat’s Tyler Herro
The Nets weren’t interested in any package of the Blazers guard in a potential trade for Mikal Bridges and have to be cognizant of their proximity to the luxury tax as a non-contender. But there may be a deal that brings in Herro and still saves the Nets nearly $8 million by moving one of the league’s most burdensome contracts.
– Tyler Herro
– Damian Lillard
Herro, 23, was the Sixth Man of the Year following the 2021-22 season. He averaged 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists while shooting 37.8% from the beyond the arc this past season, his fourth since being selected with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
He is a career 38.3% shooter from long distance going into the first year of a four-year, $120 million contract.
Robinson, 29, averaged 6.4 points and shot 32.8% from deep in the regular season but played better after being re-inserted into the rotation in the postseason following Herro’s injury. He is going into the third year of a five-year, $90 million pact with a $19.8 million player option in the final season.
Nets fans are familiar with Simmons and the impact, or lack thereof.
He has not been able to prove his naysayers wrong since arriving at the trade deadline in 2022, appearing in 42 games this past season, averaging 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists before being shut down with injuries.
3-Team Trade Could Make Sense
Simmons is just over one year removed from having back surgery but is on track to be ready by the start of next season. Still, his five-year, $177.2 million contract has been viewed as a hindrance.
That might not be the case for Portland who is putting themselves in a position to take the long approach with their roster which, sometimes, means taking on bad contracts for draft capital meaning the Nets might have to throw in an additional future first-round pick to further grease the wheels.
At least in this scenario, they could come away with a proven asset as they continue to build out their next vision for the roster.