Analyst Has ‘Realistic’ Way for Heat to Add Damian Lillard & Towering Big

Nikola Jovic

Getty Nikola Jovic may be increasing his value with his play for Serbia in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

If the Miami Heat want to finally put together a trade package for Damian Lillard that the Portland Trail Blazers will accept, the Heat are going to have to surrender some premium young talent. The question remains how much.

In his August 30 column, Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report compiled “realistic” trade proposals for all 30 NBA teams and for the Blazers, he put together the following trade idea:

  • Blazers send point guard Damian Lillard and center Jusuf Nurkić to Heat in exchange for Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Nikola Jović, a 2027 first-round pick and a 2029 first-round pick.

Buckley also took each team’s worst contract into consideration, and in the above proposal, he has Dame’s $45 million-per-year contract with Portland as the Blazers’ worst, but it’s a contract Miami could afford by unloading the salaries of Herro ($30 million per year average) and Lowry ($28.3 million annually).

Nurkić Is Intriguing Aspect of This Proposed Scenario

Nurkić would be an interesting addition. The 6-foot-11, 290-pound center started 52 games for Portland last season, averaging 13.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 26.8 minutes of action per game (stats via Basketball Reference).

The 29-year-old big man is slated to make an average of $17 million a year through the 2025-26 season, and he would be an excellent pairing with Miami’s starting center, All-Star Bam Adebayo.

What Lillard would bring to the Heat as the team’s new starting point guard is well-covered territory. Last season, Dame’s 32.2 points per game ranked third in the NBA, and his 7.3 assists per game was tied for 10th in the league. Bringing Lillard in while shipping Lowry out would be a huge net gain for the Heat, but the problem in trade negotiations seems to be disagreements about which young players Miami is willing to include in a package for Dame.

Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel has noted, the Heat likely don’t want to give up both Jaquez Jr. and Jović in addition to multiple future firsts. Still, Buckley thinks it’s possible.

Would Portland Accept a Deal With Either Jović or Jaquez?

“Initially, it seemed as if someone would be able to trump Miami’s best offer for Lillard, but since it’s been deafeningly silent on the trade front, his wish for a relocation to South Beach might be granted,” Buckley wrote, before noting how valuable Miami’s current assets really are:

“But the Blazers should still look to squeeze everything they can out of the Heat. Herro is theoretically the centerpiece, but Portland would be better off sending him elsewhere for extra assets. If it can find a win-now taker for Lowry, that would be ideal. Jaquez could be a helpful glue guy if Portland kept him, but he might have more value on the trade market, since his instant-impact ability may not hold much appeal to the rebuilding Blazers.”

Jović is currently tearing it up for Serbia in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which could make his stock even more valuable, while Jaquez, a four-year starter with UCLA, is one of the team’s most exciting young prospects.

Miami is not known for making trades in which the team gets railroaded, so unless Portland is willing to accept a proposal along the lines of Herro, Duncan Robinson, either Jović or Jaquez — but not both — and multiple future first-rounders, adding Dame may not happen.

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