After just falling short of their fourth championship title this past season, the Miami Heat will want to improve any way they can for their next playoff run. They have an exceptional captain in Jimmy Butler and an astounding pool of younger talent, but it wasn’t enough to consistently hold the line against the Lakers’ veteran squad. Heading into next year, the Heat could leverage some of their young assets in exchange for a third definitive star to pair with Butler and Bam Adebayo.
The question is, if Miami decides to form a big three, who would they add? Rumors surrounding Giannis Antetokounmpo have risen to the top of the fan speculation pile, but that hypothetical scenario might not actually be the best choice for the Heat. Bam Adebayo looks like he’ll keep developing into a phenomenal player in many of the same ways Giannis has, and while he may never reach those same heights, Miami could get more bang for their buck by acquiring a player who brings something more different to the table.
With Goran Dragić’s contract up, the point guard position could be the perfect slot for a third star. Dragic was exceptional for Miami in the playoffs, but his heightened age makes him a questionable re-sign. Still, the Heat would need someone fantastic to fill that role if they let
Dragić. Someone with sky-high scoring, playmaking, and floor-spreading potential.
It’s a longshot, but there’s one player who delivers all that and more, and Miami could get him for a package of Andre Iguodala, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Kelly Olynyk, and the 20th draft pick. His name is Damian Lillard – and while the odds of Dame leaving Portland seem slim, a deal with the Heat could be beneficial both ways.
The Trail Blazers Get Defense, Hustle, And Major Depth
The backcourt duo of Lillard and CJ McCollum has done huge work for the Trail Blazers on offense. Unfortunately, their defense hasn’t always been up to the same standard. That became particularly apparent this past season, though that’s partially due to extended absences from Jusuf Nurkić and Zach Collins. With both of those players healthy, the Blazers should certainly be better on the other end of the floor, but that doesn’t mean it will be enough for deep runs.
Miami could give Portland major defensive depth and versatility. Andre Iguodala is still an excellent defender even past his prime, and he would add a great stopping force off the bench for the Blazers. Kelly Olynyk has shown himself to be a dependable two-way player, and he would be great as well in Portland’s rotation. But that’s the least of what the Heat could offer.
By acquiring Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro, the Blazers wouldn’t even have to make a huge sacrifice in scoring potential in giving up Lillard. Neither of them are at Dame’s level, obviously, but they’re both exceptional shooters with solid defensive potential as well. Herro in particular showed All-Star-caliber displays in the bubble, and he could become a franchise-level player over the next few years.
Giving up Lillard would be a massive shift for Portland, and there may not be any deal out there that could convince the front office to part with their star. And yet, Miami has all the pieces available to make the Blazers deep contenders for years to come. Dame is a high price to pay, no doubt – but the return on investment could be stellar.
The Heat Get Huge Scoring And Another Veteran All-Star
The boon to Miami in this deal honestly needs no explanation. Damian Lillard is one of the most dangerous scorers, and possibly the most outstanding shooter, currently playing in the NBA. Teams have to pick him up at half court and double him at the three-point line just to stand a chance of stopping him. Now imagine that kind of threat bringing the ball up to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
The potential is astronomical. Butler is great with the ball, but the playoffs this year showed just how heavily Miami relies on him to lead plays on offense, especially in clutch moments. Lillard is exceptional in the final seconds and with his back against the wall, and his presence would give Butler crucial time to rest while increasing his potential as an off-ball threat. Plus, Bam’s effectiveness in the paint would be maximized by the defensive attention Lillard demands the second he enters the half-court.
Herro and Robinson were huge for Miami this year, especially in the postseason, and losing them would be a big hit for sure. However, while building up the team’s younger talent could yield championship results down the line, it’s unlikely to turn out any better than last season in the short-term. The league is only going to be tougher this coming season, and what Miami needs more than anything else is more reliable veteran star power. The price for Damian Lillard would be very high. But the result could be a trophy in 2021.