Will star guard Damian Lillard finally join the Heat? This is his first choice to leave Portland. Although this situation has been delayed for two months, it is still possible to reach this deal sometime this summer.
However, although it seems only a matter of time, all expectations and rumors are to send him to Miami, there is still reason to doubt what the defending Eastern Conference champion Heat will look like if Lillard unfortunately goes elsewhere at the beginning of the 2023-24 season.
First of all, I want to ask what the players who have been rumored to be involved as chips, such as Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry, will think when the trade comes out all summer. (It is widely reported that a tripartite transaction is almost certainly needed to facilitate the Lillard transaction between Miami and Portland. ) Lori performed well in the playoffs, and the Heat ranked eighth all the way to the NBA Finals. But apart from starting the new season at the age of 37, Lori’s efficiency in the regular season is his worst since the 2014-15 season. As for Hiro, he can explode occasionally, and of course he can score by himself. But no one will doubt his value to the team. Miami was a tough defensive team at its best. Even after the first game of the first round of the playoffs, they reached the finals as a weak team.
We should expect Eric Spoelstra’s team to maintain a tough defense, as they have always done, using defense tactics much more than other teams. However, it is obviously worth pointing out that some key players in the Miami system, such as Max Strus and Gabe Vincent, are now members of the Cavaliers and the Lakers respectively, and they are both important rotation players. Except that they fully understand and adapt to the Heat’s system, they are all 3D players and never question their resilience and defense. Miami has received endless praise for its internal player development-the Heat have seven players on their NBA Finals list who have not been selected-but it is doubtful whether Josh Richardson or Jamie hax Jr. can replace these two players. Having said that, at least Miami is familiar with Richardson, whose career started with this team. )
If the Heat don’t sign Lillard, perhaps the most noteworthy thing is that it may mean that they will still have to rely on Jimmy Butler next season. He will be 34 years old next month. He went to the Eastern Conference semifinals in the playoffs. After spraining his ankle against the Knicks, his speed slowed down obviously. If the lineup stays the same for six weeks, Hiro and Lori will have a lot of ball control responsibilities. If Adebayor makes greater progress on the offensive end, the team will be happy. (Small forward Caleb Martin made a leap forward last season, and his future self-creation ability may become a factor to change the game. ) But if Lillard didn’t come to Miami, Butler would have to shoulder the responsibility of the best scoring organizer again. To some extent, this is not ideal, because if he has a superstar teammate with scoring and organizational talent, his physical strength may at least be preserved.
It’s hard to imagine that the Heat won’t complete the Lillard deal, considering the fact that the All-Star guard openly asked to go there. Despite being the eighth seed, Miami just won the Eastern Conference championship! Most of the core members of this team remain unchanged. Therefore, the club will almost think that they are trading for Lillard, or not, the team still has a lot of good chips. All these circumstances, but it is still worth considering, if the team does not make a large-scale transaction after this transaction, but continues to fight with the existing lineup.