One of the New York Knicks’ conference rivals could trade an All-Star, and another hopes to trade for an All-Star. With training camp quickly approaching, James Harden and Damian Lillard still await their desired deals.
Lillard’s trade request in late June was inevitable after the Trail Blazers missed the playoffs for the third straight season. The 33-year-old has been the heart of Portland for 11 years, and although there’s a chance he could be back for year 12, he would rather be in Miami.
The Heat and Trail Blazers have engaged in trade talks for the star guard, but they didn’t progress much as Portland wants a haul in return. There’s no rush for the Trail Blazers to trade Lillard, and it could be a situation that continues to drag out even after the season starts.
Unless a third team is looped in, Miami will have to wait for the clock to strike Dame Time. On ESPN’s ‘Brian Windhorst and The Hoop Collective’ podcast, Windhorst said Portland wants to wipe Miami clean in a trade.
"“What the Blazers want, if they’re dealing with one team, if it is Miami or nothing, they want what the Nets got from the Suns, which is the Suns literally scrounging… They want the Heat to literally scrounge into every nook and cranny and produce everything they possibly can. The Heat don’t feel a need to do that, and they haven’t since June.”"
Will New York Knicks rival find a way to trade for Damian Lillard?
The Heat have already lost Gabe Vincent (Lakers) and Max Strus (Cavaliers) this offseason, and both were critical to Miami’s NBA Finals run. Pat Riley isn’t the type to succumb to the Trail Blazers’ demands if an additional team can’t be looped in, but if push comes to shove, the Heat’s roster could look a lot different than it did this past season.
Jaime Jaquez Jr., Miami’s No. 18 pick in the 2023 draft, and Nikola Jovic are two key young players who have popped up in trade rumors. Jaquez put on a show at Summer League, and Jovic was instrumental in Serbia’s championship run at the World Cup. Miami won’t be able to get by without including at least one of those two players.
The Heat can include up to two first-round picks and three pick swaps. For reference, the Suns traded four first-round picks and a pick swap to the Nets for Kevin Durant.
Portland can get a better deal from another team, but Lillard wants to be in Miami. As great as he’s been in his career, it will be hard for the Trail Blazers to convince one team to reach their asking price for the 33-year-old. It goes without saying the Heat would benefit from a third team entering trade talks.
Erik Spoelstra has proven he can turn an average roster into a championship contender, but even he’d struggle if Miami was strapped for the future.