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What’s Next for the Miami Heat After Unsuccessful Lillard Chase?

By Jeff Stinger

Damian Lillard finally bids goodbye to his long-time team, the Portland Trail Blazers. However, despite speculations that linked him to the Miami Heat since his first trade request, the Milwaukee Bucks landed the All-Star guard. He joins forces with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the 2021 NBA champions in the foreseeable future.

But where does this narrative put the Miami Heat? Who do you blame for the organization’s failure to land the seven-time All-Star guard? It’s difficult to point fingers here. Miami did its best to cooperate, but one can only deal with so many hoops with a mega deal like this one. What do we expect from the franchise and its deals going forward?

Are the Miami Heat Ready to Move On?

The 2024 NBA Championship favorites were ready to introduce major lineup changes to a roster that made it to the NBA Finals last season. Despite joining the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s No. 8 seed, the franchise went the extra mile and showcased unparalleled resilience throughout the postseason. Adding an All-Star talent like Lillard takes the team’s potential to another level. But, this can only happen if the entire organization is willing to go so far as to make it happen.

Several league sources said there was a rudimentary disagreement between Miami and Portland on what constituted a fair trade package for the 33-year-old. The two sides spoke about a deal shortly after Lillard’s trade request in July, but there was hardly any back and forth since. The Blazers never circled back before accepting the Bucks’ offer.

Portland initially requested Heat All-Star big man Bam Adebayo during trade discussions. The Heat quickly dismissed that proposal, according to multiple sources. The Heat was left with the impression that the Blazers were not eager to push the deal, as Miami’s front office wanted to integrate Lillard with its current roster.

Now that the 2023-24 NBA season is less than a month away, we may see more offseason crunch-time deals happening. The Damian Lillard saga saw Milwaukee Bucks guard and NBA champion Jrue Holiday and Suns starting big man Deandre Ayton join Portland’s roster. However, there’s reason to believe that Jrue is Miami’s next target since losing the Dame race.

Holiday enjoyed a successful run with the now +158 NBA Eastern Conference favorite Bucks. He was a key piece to their championship-winning run in 2021. The UCLA product is now a part of the Blazers lineup, but with the surplus of young guards on the team, he is likely headed out of the door soon. Third-overall pick Scoot Henderson is about to make his debut this year. While Holiday can play as a mentor to these young guys, he’s likely to find greener pastures elsewhere.

Proposals suggest the 33-year-old guard traded to Kyle Lywroy, Caleb Martin, and a few picks. Looking at this deal on paper, you could argue the Blazers are losing value as they don’t get a player of the same level as Holiday. Sure, the Blazers could gun for a deal involving Tyler Herro, but this only adds to the redundancy on the guard position. Furthermore, Lowry could serve as a valuable vet for the young Portland crew as +10,000 2023-24 NBA Championship sleeper picks. Given his expiring contract, he could serve as a valuable trade piece come the deadline.

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