No. 1 Damian Lillard trade destination: Miami Heat
The Miami Heat are the reigning Eastern Conference champs. They’re also Lillard’s explicitly preferred destination, which counts for something when Lillard can leverage the power of public perception through the media.
Miami was gentleman swept out of the Finals by Denver. It felt like the Heat were still a piece or two away — a plucky No. 8 seed that had extended beyond its actual abilities. Well, Lillard can be more than a ‘piece’ in the puzzle. He would instantly become Miami’s best player, infusing Erik Spoelstra’s offense with three-point shooting and halfcourt playmaking that was sorely lacking during a disappointing 44-win season.
#HeatCulture is probably overstated, but then again, Miami does find ways to overcome annual adversity more than any other franchise. The Heat were an average team at best last season and still scrapped together a Finals run. Lillard can paper over flaws in the halfcourt offense while taking a massive burden off of Jimmy Butler’s shoulders (and vice versa) as the two stars age.
No team can better hide small guards on defense. No team can better maximize a mismatched and thin second unit. The Heat would have to strip their bare asset collection dry to acquire Lillard, but it would probably be worth it considering Lillard’s talent and the Heat’s ability to regularly attract stars, regardless of team circumstance.