The Miami Heat were defeated in five games by the Denver Nuggets in the 2023 NBA Finals, and the Eastern Conference contender lost a few notable stars during free agency, with expectations of trading for Portland Trail Blazers veteran Damian Lillard.
Therefore, if Miami cannot trade for the seven-time All-Star, is the team’s offseason a failure? At the moment, the Toronto Raptors are in position to offer Portland a generous trade package for Lillard. So the clock is ticking. Miami could miss out on the chance to add Dame.
Former CBS Sports NBA writer Ethan Skolnick has kept in touch with a reporter close to Lillard’s agent.
“Toronto is a place that Dame would make it ugly. He didn’t mention Chicago. And he didn’t mention any other teams,” Skolnick said on the”5 on the Floor” podcast.
“He mentioned Toronto as a place that Dame would make it ugly. And I know for a fact, 100 percent, that this particular reporter has a great relationship with Dame’s agent and has for a very long time.”
The Toronto Raptors are confident they could outbid the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets for Damian Lillard, per @michaelgrange
“By all accounts, the Raptors seem at least reasonably confident they can maneuver their way to the front of the line, past the Miami Heat — Lillard’s… pic.twitter.com/sCyb18jvXJ
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) September 25, 2023
Even if the Raptors can trade for Damian Lillard, it doesn’t mean the 11-year veteran wants to play for Toronto. Plus, NBA insider Marc Stein believes it has yet to be determined whether the Raptors are willing to go all in to trade for the California native.
“The Toronto Raptors have convinced numerous teams around the league that their interest in trading for Lillard is genuine,” he wrote.
“The uncertainty at this point stems more from gauging Toronto’s true willingness to push all the way forward with its Lillard pursuit when it’s believed that the All-Star guard, behind the scenes, remains so resistant to the idea of becoming a Raptor.”
Would the Miami Heat’s offseason be considered a disappointment if they cannot trade for Damian Lillard? Miami lost Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Victor Oladipo
During this offseason, the Heat made various additions and subtractions. In June, Victor Oladipo exercised his $9.45 million player option for the 2023-24 season before Miami traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with a 2029 second-round draft pick and a 2023 second-rounder for cash.
Centers Thomas Bryant (two-year, $5.37 million) and Orlando Robinson (two-year, $3.92 million) inked deals as well. Forward Kevin Love signed a two-year, $7.86 million contract, and guard Josh Richardson agreed to a two-year, $5.94 million deal.
Additionally, the Heat traded wing Max Strus to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a three-team sign-and-trade. Cleveland traded Cedi Osman and Lamar Stevens to the San Antonio Spurs; Miami traded a 2026 second-round pick to San Antonio; and the Spurs sent their 2027 second-rounder to the Heat.
Moreover, guard Gabe Vincent signed a three-year, $33 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. Also, Heat veteran center Udonis Haslem announced his retirement from the NBA after a 20-year career.
Not so long ago, Toronto made it clear that Scottie Barnes was 100% off the table in any trade scenario with Kevin Durant….
But yes, I’m sure they’ll say let’s give up our franchise cornerstone now for Damian Lillard, a player that unequivocally doesn’t want to be there. 👍 https://t.co/Jlh20D0ado
— Miami HEAT UK 🇬🇧 (@TheMiamiHeatUK) September 25, 2023
Following Miami’s NBA Finals series loss to Denver, then-Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal named the Heat his preferred destination. On June 18, Beal was traded to the Phoenix Suns.
Perhaps Miami dodged a bullet by not trading for an injury-prone Beal. After all, he’s owed $207.7 million over the next four years. Likewise, Lillard is owed $216.2 million over the next four seasons as well.
If Miami fans had a say on this decision, they would probably take Lillard over Beal.
While the Heat still have Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro, next season could be quite a roller-coaster ride for them. Since Vincent and Strus are gone, Miami cannot afford to lose Butler or Herro to a serious injury next season.
Miami’s 2023-24 win total is set at 48.5. In the 2022-23 regular season, the Heat finished 44-38.