Heat Off-Season Companion Part 3: Damian Lillard Is Intent on Being Traded to the Heat
Lillard reportedly is willing to sit out and force another trade if he is initially traded to a team other than the Miami Heat. This significantly benefits the Heat in their attempts to trade for Damian Lillard. Lillard is a great player and a future Hall-of-Fame inductee, but there are risks associated with trading for him.
Damian Lillard turns 33 years old on July 15 of this year. Lillard has had several major injuries in recent seasons. Additionally, Lillard will make around $45 million in the 2023-24 NBA season. He will make nearly $49 million in the 2024-25 NBA season. Any team other than the Heat will have to worry that Lillard will not accept being traded to them.
It seems likely that the Heat and Trailblazers will agree on a Damian Lillard trade at some point. This process will probably take some time. However, the Heat can put together a good trade package for Lillard and any team competing with the Heat to acquire Lillard has to worry about him being unsettled with his new team if they acquire him. The Heat are the most likely destination for Lillard, given these facts.
The Miami Heat Traded Away Oladipo and Strus
The Heat created cap space by trading away Victor Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder and completing a sign-and-trade involving Strus going to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In exchange, the Heat received a $9.4 million trade exception and undisclosed draft compensation for Oladipo.
Strus seemed likely to leave the Heat and the Heat confirmed this by trading him to the Cavaliers in exchange for a future second-round draft pick. Strus and Oladipo both contributed to the Heat last season. However, Strus’ inconsistency and contract demands coupled with Oladipo’s injury history means that the Heat were justified in trading away both of them. These trades make sense for the Miami Heat.
Gabe Vincent Joined the Lakers in Free Agency
Gabe Vincent is the only truly notable player to leave the Heat in free agency so far as of the time of this writing. Vincent will join the Lakers on a three-year, $33 million contract. Vincent is a good point guard, but he is also inconsistent and the Heat did not have the cap space to match the Lakers’ contract offer.
A three-year, $33 million contract seems excessive for Vincent given his usual production. The Heat did not have the cap space to sign Vincent for this amount, anyway. Vincent leaving the Heat is a bit unfortunate, but the Heat rightly prioritized signing less expensive players to improve their roster.
Heat Off-Season Companion Part 3: The Heat Re-Signed Kevin Love In Addition to Signing Josh Richardson and Thomas Bryant
Kevin Love is 34 years old and will turn 35 this September. However, he contributed to the Heat last season so it makes sense for the Heat to re-sign him to a veteran minimum contract as they plan to do. Love can still definitely be an impactful player for the Heat.
The Heat also signed Josh Richardson and Thomas Bryant to add more depth to their team. Richardson returns to Miami after getting drafted by the Heat in 2015 with the 40th overall pick and playing for the Heat from 2015-2019. Richardson will sign a two-year veteran minimum contract and the second year is a player option.
Thomas Bryant will sign a two-year, $5.4 million contract with the Heat. The second year is a player option on that contract, as well. Bryant is coming off a 2022-23 season where he averaged 9.8 points on 62.3% shooting and grabbed 5.7 rebounds in 18 minutes per game for the Nuggets. Bryant won the 2023 NBA championship with the Nuggets. This is a very good contract for the Heat and Thomas Bryant is a definite upgrade over Cody Zeller as the Heat’s backup center.
The Heat Will Try to Trade For Lillard Before Making Other Moves
The Heat are apparently waiting to complete a trade for Damian Lillard before making other roster moves. This makes sense, given that the Heat will have to trade quite a bit for Lillard. I would bet that the Heat will complete a trade for Lillard at some point in this off-season.
Check back next week for more Miami Heat content.