The Milwaukee Bucks swooped out of nowhere to trade for Damian Lillard on Wednesday afternoon, ending the summer's longest (if not most contentious) trade saga. The 11-year NBA vet left the Portland Trail Blazers on a graceful note and he now embarks on his first genuine title hunt with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.
Nobody is more shocked and heartbroken about the Dame news than fans of the Miami Heat. All summer it has been 'Heat this,' or 'Heat that.' Lillard proclaimed Miami as his one and only desire, but the Blazers played an effective game of hardball and eventually got Dame to budge for Option B.
It's clear the Heat felt Portland was not dealing in good faith, but let's clear up the simple truth of the matter — Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, a 2029 first-round pick, and two distant future pick swaps from Milwaukee clears a Herro-centric Heat offer by a mile. It just does. Nikola Jovic is a cool prospect, but let's be real. The Heat's kids weren't making up the gap in value between Herro and Holiday.
And so, after a summer of extremely public trade rumors, Tyler Herro finds himself in an awkward position: still a member of the Miami Heat.
Herro has been through this rodeo once or twice — Donovan Mitchell rumors, Kevin Durant rumors, and so on — but it's hard to imagine Herro doesn't feel at least a slight sense of betrayal. The Heat actively tried to trade him, but couldn't get it across the finish line.
Herro is rolling with the punches, however, and he thinks it's awfully cool to see Dame join his hometown team in Milwaukee.
Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro is ready to buy Damian Lillard-Milwaukee Bucks jersey
It's good for the league when small markets do well. Of course, the business side of the NBA leans into the success of big markets like New York, Los Angeles, or Miami, but it's good for the competitive spirit of basketball when the little guys have a fighting chance.
That has been the case in recent years. Toronto won the title in 2019, Milwaukee won in 2021. Denver in 2023. The league's small markets are in a good place and this trade further reinforces the notion that teams outside the tier-one cities can, in fact, build and sustain winners.
Milwaukee will enter next season as prohibitive title favorites in a lot of circles. The Antetokounmpo-Lillard pairing presents an unsolvable puzzle for most defenses. Throw two defenders at Dame and you're leaving the lane open for Giannis. Pack the paint, and Lillard will unleash unfathomable fury behind the 3-point line.
Herro is being a good sport about a difficult situation. These players are all millionaires — it's hard to pen a sob story about the personal challenges of making $20 million per year — but Herro has been with the Heat since he was drafted in 2019. He clearly loves the franchise and he has sacrificed a lot on the court.
In the end, Miami will simply go after the next superstar who demands a move to Miami. Dame certainly won't be the last. There's a decent chance this isn't Herro's final time involved in trade rumors either. That's the nature of the business, unfortunately.