The Miami Heat are hanging around at 10-18 thus far in the 2023-24 NBA season, but their 110.6 points per game -- good for 23rd in the league -- could use an infusion of scoring. Damian Lillard, scoring over 25 points per game with the Bucks right now, seemed to be destined to make it to South Beach. Surely, they'd be far closer to top-10 in points per game if the trade happened. What happened?
Lillard's connection to the Heat was long theorized, yet he wound up getting acquired by the Bucks to pair with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Evidently, one role player stood at least in part in the way of the trade to Miami becoming a reality.
Caleb Martin was a blockade in Damian Lillard-Heat deal
Michael Scotto suggested in a recent article that he has heard one of the reasons the Heat didn't land Lillard was because of their unwillingness to give up Caleb Martin in the deal.
Yes, the Caleb Martin who has started precisely zero games this year and averages fewer than 10 points per game.
Scotto suggests the high level of play Martin displayed in the Eastern Conference Finals had Miami high on Martin, which is fair -- Martin averaged 19.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists in that series -- but far from a reason to pass on one of the most prolific scorers in the last decade of the NBA.
Now, in fairness, Scotto does suggest Martin was just one of potentially many reasons the Heat couldn't land Lillard, but he's clearly a notable enough blockade to be mentioned. Now, given the Heat's rumored interest in Zach LaVine, it'll be interesting to see if their thinking has changed.
It seems as if Miami missed out on what could have been an all-time cash-in on a playoff moment.