Heat Pushed to Add Former Suns Starter ASAP If They Can’t Add Damian Lillard

T.J. Warren

Getty T.J. Warren is currently a free agent.

If the Miami Heat fail in its summer-long quest to trade for Portland Trail Blazers starting point guard Damian Lillard, the team is being encouraged to sign free agent forward T.J. Warren.

“If the Miami Heat aren’t able to swing a deal for Damian Lillard prior to training camp, they should be in the market for a little offensive juice, and T.J. Warren had some moments in 2022-23 when he appeared capable of providing that,” Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report wrote on September 14.

Warren, 30, averaged just under 20 points a game for the 2017-18 and 2019-20 seasons, but he netted 7.5 points a game last season. “That was in 16.4 minutes,” Bailey notes. “Per 75 possessions, he averaged 16.7 points. … For a team with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, Warren may not be expected to do a ton, but their 25th-ranked offense could use a little help.”

Bailey didn’t mention the January 2020 game between the Heat and the Indiana Pacers in which Butler and Warren, who was with the Pacers at the time, got into a heated argument. After the game, Butler called Warren “trash,” also calling the veteran forward “soft.” That was over three years ago, though, and if Jimmy Buckets and Warren have mended fences, this may not be a bad suggestion from Bailey.

T.J. Warren Still Has Some Juice

Warren, a former first-round pick out of NC State for the Phoenix Suns in 2014 (14th overall), spent his first five seasons with the Suns before getting traded to the Pacers in a cap-saving move in June of 2019. The best statistical season of his career came his first year in Indy, when he finished with a career-high 19.8 points on 53.6% shooting, also adding 4.2 rebounds a game. He started 165 games for the Suns until injury struck.

The veteran wing played in just four games during the 2020-2021 season before stress fractures in his left foot required surgery. Warren also missed the entire following 2021-22 season recovering from the injury, which is known for its long and cumbersome recovery process.

Warren signed with the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent in July of 2022, and he wound up getting traded to the Suns as part of the Kevin Durant deal in February of 2023. He finished his 2022-23 campaign playing in 42 games, averaging 7.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in just over 16 minutes.

Despite the lower scoring output, the 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward can still create off the dribble, and he’s a solid shooter from distance (35.4% over his career). He wouldn’t be a bad option if Miami can’t land Dame.

About that…

What’s the Latest on the Damian Lillard Trade?

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on September that Lillard would only attend the camps of two teams: the Trail Blazers and/or the Heat. Considering camp opens for both teams on October 3, this will certainly be something to monitor.

On a September appearance on “NBA Today,”ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Portland is getting more active in trade talks regarding Dame. “My sense is that the Blazers have done a lot more talking with teams in the last say, 10-14 days than they did probably in at least a month-plus prior,” Woj said, via Bleacher Report. “I think they’ve been in communication with a lot of teams, trying to find a structure of a deal that can get them a Damian Lillard trade. We’ll see now how much traction they can get between now and the start of camp.”

From the beginning, the Heat have been the only team Lillard has expressed interest in playing for, so we’ll see if they can finally get a deal together, although it may take a few other teams to make it happen.

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