As has been publicly stated by the man himself, superstar Damian Lillard has one major desire: to bring a championship to the Portland Trail Blazers. Throughout his 11-year tenure in Oregon, the point guard has been quite vocal about his emphasis on being “loyal” to the franchise that kicked off his NBA career.
However, with their two consecutive postseason-less campaigns coupled with rumblings of the franchise considering a rebuild, chatter has continuously risen of late regarding a slight shift in his willingness to move on from the club.
Just recently, said rumblings grew even louder, as Lillard was asked point-blank during a recent episode of Showtime's The Last Stand with Brian Custer about potential trade scenarios, and discussed a few landing spots that he's oft been linked to.
Though within the interview he made it clear that his goal is still to remain with the Blazers for the long haul, one soundbite wound up taking the internet by storm, as he admitted that, if he were to be traded, the Miami Heat would be his preferred landing spot.
“Miami, obviously,” Damian Lillard said. “Miami is the obvious one. Bam (Adebayo) is my dog for real.”
Naturally, as a result, this sent fans and media pundits alike into a frenzy, as the Heat are now considered the odds-on favorites to land the likes of Lillard in the event that the Trail Blazers trade him.
Of course, in order for them to acquire his services, the current Eastern Conference representatives in the 2023 NBA Finals would have to offer up a pretty package to entice GM Joe Cronin to consider parting ways with his franchise cornerstone.
Luckily for the Heat, they'd have a few options at their disposal to make a deal work, with perhaps the best package for both parties reading as follows:
Heat-Blazers Damian Lillard trade
Miami Heat Receive: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin, Nikola Jovic, Victor Oladipo, No. 18 pick in 2023, 2027 first-round pick, 2029 first-round pick
Damian Lillard's arrival in South Beach would automatically create the league's newest and perhaps the most ferocious Big 3 consisting of him, Jimmy Butler, and Bam Adebayo.
Without a true third-star in the mix, the Heat have managed to make history as being just the second eighth seed to clinch an NBA Finals berth, and have already gone on to steal a game whilst on the road against the heavily favored Denver Nuggets.
Imagine if they added Lillard and his 2022-23 averages of 32.2 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.8 rebounds on 46.3% shooting from the floor and 37.1% shooting from deep into this mix?
Now, of course, this trade would see the Heat offloading several pieces that have helped them get to this year's Finals, with Martin, in particular, serving as the club's savior during their highly competitive Eastern Conference Finals bout against the second-seeded Boston Celtics.
However, what's rather noteworthy is the fact that they've also gone on to achieve such success without the services of their general third cog Tyler Herro in the fold, as he has been out since Game 1 of their quarterfinals matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks with a broken hand, thus suggesting that adding on the clear talent upgrade in Damian Lillard should at the very least keep the bar at the same level, but more likely will raise it.
As for Portland, they could officially embark on a post-Dame era and steer into a full-blown rebuild, albeit with a headstart by adding the 23-year-old Herro to their arsenal.
Since being drafted 13 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, the combo guard has only managed to elevate his game with every passing season. Now, in 2022-23, he managed to put forth career-best numbers in multiple categories and, in the end, finished the regular season off boasting averages of 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists while shooting 37.8% from the field.
Tyler Herro could be looked upon as one of the Trail Blazers' key building blocks alongside fifth-year two-guard Anfernee Simons while bringing on the 27 pick from the 2022 draft in Nikola Jovic and an additional three future selections would only further expedite their rebuild process.
In the end, both teams would set themselves up toward receiving what they desire.
For the Heat, it would provide them with their second Big-3 in the last 10 years while bettering their odds of claiming their fourth (or fifth, depending on how this year's Finals go) title along the way.
For the Blazers, it would be a way to start fresh and build toward a brighter future organically rather than constantly holding the middling “competitive, but non-contender” label that has unfortunately plagued them for the vast majority of Damian Lillard's tenure.