It is not often that high-profile media skirmishes break out, and even less often do those skirmishes have implications involving high-profile league transactions. But that’s exactly what we’ve got going on now between ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski and longtime Miami media personality Dan LeBatard, who now works for Meadowlark media shortly after leaving ESPN in 2020.
At issue is a pretty blunt commentary from LeBatard concerning the state of negotiations on a trade that would send star guard Damian Lillard from Portland to the Miami Heat, an organization LeBatard has been covering since 1990.
Commenting on Wojnarowski’s reports that a deal involving Lillard could drag deep into the summer, LeBatard scoffed.
“The Heat know that he’s just agenda-based, shilling, bought and paid for by Portland, it’s embarrassing that Woj is telling people it might be weeks or months on Lillard,” he said this week on The Dan LeBatard Show with Stutgotz.
LeBatard Is a Miami Fixture
LeBatard does have a close relationship with Miami Heat higher-ups, and certainly with the team’s godfather, Pat Riley himself. That would indicate that LeBatard is reflecting the outlook that comes from the top of the Heat org chart, that Portland is merely posturing rather than quickly moving forward with a Lillard-to-Miami trade.
Indeed, there has not been much concrete movement on a Lillard trade. While organizations have at least done due-diligence “check-ins” on Lillard with the Trail Blazers, actual offers are scarce. Lillard’s clear preference to be traded to Miami has dampened the market on him, as has the remaining four years on his contract: Lillard is slated to make $45.6 million next year, $48.7 million the following year, $58.5 million in 2025-26 and $63 million in 2026-27, when he will turn 37 years old.
One report from veteran NBA writer Mark Medina suggested that if Lillard is not traded to Miami, he will simply decline to show up at training camp, which is the only leverage Lillard (as a player under contract) can exercise in deciding where he winds up.
For Portland, Tyler Herro ‘Is the Offer’
The Heat are willing to build an offer for Lillard around Tyler Herro, who has averaged 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists in his four NBA seasons. Herro is still only 23 but would have to find a fit among a crowded young Portland backcourt that includes 2023 No. 3 pick Scoot Henderson, 24-year-old Anfernee Simons and 20-year-old Shaedon Sharpe, the No. 7 pick in 2022.
But the Blazers’ guard logjam is not the Heat’s problem, as LeBatard put it.
“This is the Heat’s position,” he said. “There are no calls going back and forth. The offer is Herro and Herro’s the best one you’re going to get from anybody. He’s better than (Sixers guard Tyrese) Maxey. He’s the best you’re going to get, Lillard wants to be with us. This is the offer.”
LeBatard went on, bringing Wojnarowski back into the picture. “It’s not calls going back and forth,” he said. “There are no calls going back and forth. Portland can do all they want with Woj, sending out all sorts of smoke signals about pressure—it’s the offer. And they’re saying, show us someone who is better at that age you’re going to get anywhere in the league from anyone given that Lillard is only going to play here. Be happy with Herro, because he is a Top 75 player.”