Damian Lillard said he wanted to be traded to the Miami Heat, and there have been some mixed reports on how much the Heat actually offered to get him. Whatever it was, it wasn't enough. Lillard got traded to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, and Miami, for now, is left with the regret of what could've been.
Lillard would've been perfect for the Heat, who need Dame's offensive juice and have the defensive talent and structure to support what Lillard lacks on that end. But there could be a consolation prize in store for Heat fans. Jrue Holiday.
Holiday was sent to Portland in the deal, and all indications are that he will be rerouted elsewhere. Miami could be that spot. They need a point guard. They would be a defensive juggernaut with Holiday, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. And they wouldn't have to give up nearly what they were in line to trade for Lillard.
Kyle Lowry's salary and a first-round pick might get it done. Maybe a young player or a second pick if you want to make sure you don't get outbid again. Either way, Holiday is gettable, and the Heat are reportedly in pursuit of him. This can still work out pretty well for Miami.
If it doesn't, it's back to proving everyone who thinks they're a potential play-in team wrong. They have a history of doing just that, making the Finals in two of the last four years and the conference finals in three of the last four. There's an arrogance about the Heat culture that says "we can compete with anyone because of the name on the front of our jersey, not the names on the back," but you can't ignore the circumstances.
Miami barely got past Chicago to even make the playoffs last year. Giannis Antetokounmpo was hurt in Miami's first-round win over the Bucks. The Knicks were nothing special. Kudos on the Boston win, but can Caleb Martin play like that again? Gabe Vincent was awesome, but he's gone. So is Max Strus. Tyler Herro is an effective addition being that he was out during the playoffs, but is that enough?
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Most would say no. Miami thrives on the disrespect, of course. But it would thrive a whole lot more with Holiday in the lineup. He'll have other suitors. The Clippers come to mind as a logical , or perhaps another three-team deal can be struck to finally send James Harden to the Clippers while routing Holiday back to where his NBA career began in Philadelphia.
Miami might make the most sense. Holiday isn't Lillard, but he's still very good and arguably even more valuable in a deep-playoff setting than Lillard. We'll find out about that one in May and June. For now, the Heat need to make a move in the aftermath of missing on Lillard, and they could do a lot worse than ending up with Holiday.