Damian Lillard Trade Taking Shape Amid Heat-Blazers Stalemate: Reports

Pat Riley, Miami Heat president

Pat Riley, Miami Heat president

We got past the NBA draft without the Portland Trail Blazers making any kind of move that would have been seen as the kind of upgrade that star guard Damian Lillard would have been seen as a championship-caliber transaction. We got past the first wave of NBA free agency, and past the formalization of the trade request Lillard lodged with Portland management.

Now, we have gotten through July and Lillard is still a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. That might not be entirely surprising given the timing that blockbuster trades sometimes require, but what is a surprise is this: The Blazers seem no closer to finding a satisfactory deal for Lillard than they were a month ago.

For the Heat, that is good news because it means, essentially, that Miami remains in position to scoop up Lillard at a minimal cost. This could prove to be another of Pat Riley’s great coups.

A couple of national updates on the subject confirm that, with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reporting that the Heat, “won’t bid against themselves,” and Shams Charania of The Rally laying out the contours of a Heat-Blazers deal.

Shams: Herro, Picks, Youth Among Heat Offerings

Start with Charania, who had the basics of a package the Heat could send to Portland:

  • 3-4 first-round picks
  • Pick swaps
  • Second-round picks
  • Tyler Herro, who would wind up with a third team
  • Expiring contracts
  • Young players

Those are pretty vague contours, of course, and it is worth noting what the Heat could actually do to fill in some of those blanks. First, the Heat can’t offer a first-round pick in 2025 or 2026 (they owe their 2025 pick to Oklahoma City), so sending three first-rounders to Portland likely means the 2024 pick, along with 2027 and 2029. The Heat could also offer swaps in 2026, 2028 and 2030.

Miami is low on second-round picks, with only the Lakers’ 2026 pick and a pick in 2027 available for trade.

The Blazers, loaded with guards Anfernee Simons, Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe, have little interest in Herro, and a deal with Herro as the centerpiece would almost certainly need a third team to be involved—preferably a team that could offer up a quality center or big wing.  The Nets and Jazz have been among the rumored potential landing spots for Herro, though no significant progress has been made with either team.

Expiring contracts are nice in theory, but the Heat only have one: Kyle Lowry’s. The Blazers have no interest in Lowry, but would be interested in taking him on and waiving him if the Heat would take back the contract of center Jusuf Nurkic. Miami has not been willing to do that as of yet.

Miami could throw in at least two promising young players, 2023 first-round pick Jaime Jaquez and 2022 first-rounder Nikola Jovic. It’s possible that Caleb Martin gets thrown into the mix, too, though the Heat need to maintain some depth should a Lillard deal go down.

Woj: ‘Miami Remains the Team Most Motivated’

The picks and the addition of Jovic and Jaquez would be a decent package for the Blazers, but the key to any deal appears to be what happens with Herro—is there a third team that wants him and would be willing to give up something of value to get him?

So far, the answer has been no. But as Wojnarowski reported, the Blazers’ only strategy right now is to wait and hope that something new comes up. It’s not much of a strategy but Portland’s only other option is to capitulate to Miami entirely, and they’re not ready for that. Yet.

“Certainly, Miami remains the team most motivated, that has enough assets to eventually perhaps outbid the market,” Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s NBA Today show. “The problem is Portland looks at what Miami has, doesn’t love it, and keeps hoping something better is going to come along. …

“Miami’s not going to bid against itself and keep upping its offer when it doesn’t think Portland necessarily has anything comparable (on the table). That’s why it’s dragging out and why it may continue to drag out. … Right now, there’s just not been a lot of engagement among teams on a Lillard trade.”

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments