For much of the summer, it made some sense for the Heat to sit back and be patient on Blazers star Damian Lillard. Miami has offered a package that is built around guard Tyler Herro, with assorted draft picks and young players added to the mix, and there has been no reason to up its offer. Because Lillard has been explicit in his desire to be traded to Miami, no other teams have gotten into the Lillard sweepstakes in earnest.
But Portland seems determined to make this a war of attrition, even willing to keep Lillard into next season until he either expands the list of teams to which he’d like to be traded, or until Miami is forced to bring in other teams to give the Blazers a better return package.
That’s dangerous, especially as public sentiment seems to be turning against Lillard. He lost a big supporter this week when popular Hall of Famer and broadcaster Charles Barkley said on the Bill Simmons podcast that Lillard was being “unfair” to the Blazers by forcing a trade to Miami.
‘Pennies on the Dollar’ in a Lillard Trade
As quoted by BlazersEdge.com, Barkley told Simmons that the Heat just do not have the assets to acquire a star like Lillard, who averaged 32.2 points, 7.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds last season. Herro is a solid young scorer, who is only 23 and has averaged better than 20 points per game each of the past two seasons.
But he struggles defensively, and the Heat made their epic run to the NBA Finals as the No. 8 seed only after Herro was injured. Beyond Herro, the Heat have rookie Jaime Jaquez and second-year forward Nikola Jovic, plus future first-rounders, beginning in 2027. That’s not a star-studded package.
“I think Dame’s request was unfair,” Barkley said, “only going to Miami, because Miami don’t have any assets. …The only problem I have with Dame, he says, ‘Hey trade me, try to put me in the best situation.’ But they can’t screw up their organization by taking pennies on the dollar.”
Simmons mentioned that the Sixers traded away Barkley to Phoenix in 1992 after a tumultuous eight seasons in Philadelphia, for a limited return (Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang). Barkley said that kind of deal is not fair.
“That’s not fair to the Trail Blazers. They shouldn’t do it. Dame is one of my favorite players, and they have treated Dame great, but for them to take pennies on the dollar, I just think you can’t run your organization like that. ‘Hey Dame, we want to do right by you, but we want to do right by our organization, too.’”
Blazers Gave Lillard a $121 Million Extension
Indeed, the Blazers have paid Lillard a whopping $235 million over the course of his 11-year career. More than that, they’ve signed hm to contracts that will pay him $94 million over the next two years, plus $121 million in an extension for 2025-26 and 2026-27.
When it comes to their obligation to Lillard, the Blazers appear to have done their part. And if that viewpoint takes root—if Barkley’s assertion that Lillard is being “unfair” becomes accepted public perception—it could alter the way Lillard moves forward with his trade request. Lillard is publicity-conscious and has no desire to leave Portland as the villain.
That could be a point of pressure for the Heat. There has been very little that has motivated the Heat to make a different offer or exert any more effort in getting Lillard to Miami. But if Lillard starts getting antsy on forcing the Blazers to bend to his will, the Heat might have to change their tack, too.