Following the Miami Heat‘s quick elimination from the 2020-21 NBA playoffs, the franchise’s focus has already turned toward free agency. While the Heat would instantly become a force to be reckoned with if they’re able to acquire Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, such expectations should be tempered at best.
While the Heat went 0-4 to the Milwaukee Bucks after coming with two games of winning the title last season, the Blazers fell to the Denver Nuggets in six games — the fourth time in five years that Portland has failed to get past the first round.
After the Blazers quickly parted ways with head coach Terry Stotts, rumors swirled that Portland might be looking toward a full rebuild. If the Blazers makes Lillard available for a trade, the Heat, along with numerous other franchises, will clear out all the stops to obtain the six-time All-Star.
However, there has not been any indication that the Blazers are willing to trade Lillard, whose $196 million contract extension has him locked in until 2025. As a Plan B, CNBC Sports reporter Jabari Young hinted that if Lillard is off the table, Miami can make an offer for Blazers’ guard CJ McCollum.
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“A top asset like guard CJ McCollum could attract a healthy return,” Young wrote of the Blazers. “McCollum will make $30 million next season, part of a three-year extension.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers were mentioned as one possible destination for McCollum. The San Antonio Spurs like McCollum, but his name hasn’t gained traction within their trade scenarios. A Western Conference executive floated the idea of the Clippers trading Paul George this summer if the team failed to meet expectations. Hence, a possible McCollum to the Clippers package. And if Miami can’t lure a Lillard deal, McCollum could be an option there, too.
While McCollum, who turns 30 in September, lacks on defensive power, he’s a dependable scorer who averaged 23.1 points per game this season. Also linking McCollum to Miami, The Big Lead‘s Liam McKeone.
McKeone wrote, “The Blazers will almost certainly gauge the trade market for McCollum. It won’t be a piece of cake to move his three-year, $100 million contract that kicks in this season, but it’s definitely doable.”
Heat President Pay Riley Spoke About Adding a Third Big Name for Next Season
The Heat would greatly benefit by adding another All-Star to complement the team’s core that is Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. With Victor Oladipo’s future still up in the air, and possibly up to $34 million in cap space if they release both Goran Dragic and Andre Iguodala, Pat Riley could make a blockbuster move to sign a top-tier free agent this summer.
“We’ll see,” Riley said during his annual postseason media conference on June 3, as reported by Miami Herald‘s Barry Jackson. “The market will determine a lot of that as we move forward. I like the nucleus of our team. We have a great core with Jimmy [Butler] and Bam [Adebayo]; regardless of how they performed in the playoffs, we didn’t make a mistake on those guys.”
“I have a pretty good idea of what we have and where we are headed,” Riley said, “Despite the result of the Milwaukee series, which was bad… We are ready to move forward.”