All-star guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard, requested a trade from the team last week, making it the first time he is available in his entire career. Lillard has played his entire career with the Trailblazers, making several all-star games and one conference final. Lillard has always said he has wanted to win in Portland. However, it has been a struggle there for most of his career.
Photo Cred: USA Today
This trade request came a few days after the NBA draft, where Lillard wanted the Blazers to trade and sign some high-level veterans. That didn’t happen. Portland used the third pick in the draft to select Scoot Henderson, who has upside potential but is still a few years away from being a potential all-star. Lillard doesn’t want to wait for these young guys to develop; he wants to be a championship contender immediately.
The teams interested in Lillard are the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, and Philadelphia 76ers. Damian Lillard’s clear favorite destination is the Miami Heat. He wants to play alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. For this trade to work, the Heat would have to give up Tyler Hero, potentially Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, and Jaime Jaquez Jr, who they just drafted, and multiple picks. This is a trade that the Heat should absolutely do. Not only is Lillard one of the best players in the league, but he also fits in perfectly with the Heat.
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The Heat were missing high-level guard play at the point guard position, which is a position you need high-level players to succeed. As we just saw Jamaal Murry win a championship with the Denver Nuggets. The Heat were too reliant on Butler to close out games and give them high-level scoring production night in and night out. Although Butler can do that most nights, that isn’t really his game. Lillard is the perfect complement to Butler because of his high-volume shooting and proficient shooting ability from the three-point range.
Butler is at his best when slashing toward the rim and getting in people’s faces defensively. Adebayo is at his best when rolling toward the rim in a high pick-and-roll situation. Having Lillard on the other side of those pick-and-rolls will benefit both guys tremendously. Teams often trap Lillard during pick-and-roll because of his shooting ability. This will allow Adebayo to play with more space on the floor that he didn’t have this past season.
Photo Cred: SI
If the Heat can secure this deal, which many expect will happen, it will put them right at the top to make it out of the Eastern Conference. Lillard will form a big three alongside Butler and Adebayo and be one of the favorites to win the championship. Lillard is itching to play on the highest stage in the NBA, as he has yet to reach the NBA finals, and adding one of the best closers in the game will propel Miami right back into the finals.