According to veteran reporter Marc Spears of ESPN, the Heat’s offer to Portland consisted of Tyler Herro and two first-round draft picks. Now, there would have had to be trade filler in the package to make the deal a legal one under NBA rules, but that could be done by adding the likes of Duncan Robinson’s contract.
There’s no mention of Nikola Jovic, last year’s first-round draft pick. No mention of Jaime Jaquez Jr., this year’s first-round draft pick. There’s no mention of the Heat being willing to take back the contract of Jusuf Nurkic, the Portland big man who is owed $55 million over the next three seasons. The Blazers are looking to move that money on in a Lillard deal.
Spears mentioned none of that, indicating that the initial Heat offer to Portland has not budged since July. In fact, Spears wrote, “In the nearly three months since that request became public, no substantial trade conversations have taken place between the two teams, sources said.”
Heat Entrenched on Damian Lillard
The Heat’s position on a trade for Lillard seems to have been entrenched from the get-go. Herro and two first-round picks is not much of an offer from Portland’s perspective, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, Herro has proven to be a defensive liability, and when the Heat clicked in during last year’s playoffs and made a run to the NBA Finals, it was done with Herro injured on the bench.
The Blazers look at that and don’t see Herro as much of an asset, despite his 20.1 points-per-game average last season. The also don’t see Herro as a fit for them, because they’re loaded in the backcourt with new point guard Scoot Henderson, the No. 3 pick in last year’s NBA draft, and Shaedon Sharpe, who showed flashes as a rookie last year. Sixth-year guard Anfernee Simons is expected to take a star role with Lillard gone.
Portland, then, would be trading a star for a guy they can’t use and two low-level first-round picks.
But Miami looks at Lillard and sees a guy who can bring short-term success but with long-term pain. Sure, Lillard averaged 32.2 points with 7.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds last year, but he is 33 years old and has $215 million on his contract over the next four seasons. That’s a ticking time-bomb of a contract, and the Heat don’t feel they should have to give up too much to take it on.
Raptors Pegged as Lillard Frontrunners
So the stalemate between Portland and Miami continues, with the Blazers stirring up interest in Lillard elsewhere. Chicago was rumored to have interest in a Lillard deal, with Northwest native Zach LaVine the centerpiece, but the late-charging darkhorse in the mix, according to Spears, is Toronto.
Spears wrote, “A Raptors offer could include a package featuring players from a roster that includes two-time NBA All-Star Pascal Siakam, 2022 NBA Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, forward O.G. Anunoby — who is eligible for a contract extension — and rookie sharpshooter Gradey Dick. The Blazers are intrigued about adding a young 6-foot-8 sharpshooter in Dick, a source said.”
He did add the the expectation was that Lillard would be dealt by Media Day, which is October 2.