Pat Riley and the Miami Heat were the leading contenders to land former Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard. “Dame Time” asked to be traded and then later named South Beach as his preferred destination. Blazers GM Joe Cronin wanted to do right by Lillard but also told the media that he would do it for the right offer. The best Riley could do was apparently not good enough for Cronin to bite into.
Instead of trading Lillard to the Heat, Cronin agreed to a three-team deal with the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. “Dame” is now paired with Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee to form perhaps the deadliest duo in the NBA.
Kendrick Perkins had this to say about the Heat’s failure to land Damian Lillard:
“I feel sorry for their loss. Look, Pat Riley, for the first time, he got finessed. He thought that he could wait it out. He thought that Portland was gonna fold and give in to the package that he wanted them to give into. And they [Blazers] didn’t! They said, ‘We’re not waiting on you anymore.’
“Where does the Miami Heat go from here? ... I don’t know if they can have another spectacular run like they did last season. … The Miami Heat are not the ones that’s hunting no more. They’re gonna be the hunted.”
Pat Riley has made a name for himself as one of the smartest and shrewdest executives around. He was a big part of the reason why Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning and Chris Bosh played for the Heat.
This time, though, he couldn’t get his way. The trade stunned basketball fans, particularly Miami Heat fanatics. Jimmy Butler added controversy to the said trade with this claim in his IG account (via Legion of Hoops):
“Yo NBA man, y’all need to look into the Bucks for tampering… Y’all didn’t hear it from me, but I heard it from somebody.”
The defending Eastern Conference champs will now have to contend with the new superstar duo from Milwaukee and the retooled Boston Celtics. Boston and Miami have met in the last four Eastern Conference championships. While the Heat lost key pieces, the Celtics let go of Marcus Smart but acquired Kristaps Porzingis.
Will Pat Riley and the Miami Heat trade for Jrue Holiday
Jrue Holiday was the centerpiece of the Milwaukee Bucks’ package to acquire Damian Lillard. Portland may not need another veteran guard on their roster as they could be looking to start the Scoot Henderson-Anfernee Simons era in Rip City.
Holiday is just the kind of player that will help the Miami Heat after losing Gabe Vincent and Max Strus in the offseason. The defensive-minded guard is tailor-made for Erik Spoelstra’s system. He is another hard-nosed player that Jimmy Butler would love to have.
The Heat have achieved big things with a less-than-ideal roster. Getting Jrue Holiday may not be a bad consolation prize in the Damian Lillard sweepstakes.