Shams Charania appeared on “The Pat McAfee Show” and indicated (at the 1:00 mark) that Lillard is clearly zeroed in on joining the Miami Heat.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) July 10, 2023
“In those cases, where teams have done their backchannel research to find out what Dame is thinking, whether he wants to play for us,” Charania said. “Whether it’s the Clippers, whether it’s the Celtics. Those are among the two teams I’ve heard that have had a level of interest in Dame Lillard. I think the answer has been a resounding no. He wants to be in Miami, period.”
Lillard asked to be traded from the Portland Trail Blazers on July 1, a request that sparked plenty of conversation about teams that might potentially have an interest. Based on Charania’s comments, the veteran guard’s thinking is effectively Miami or bust.
That narrow trade path is a positive for the Heat, but it also figures to make the Trail Blazers intent on driving a hard bargain. They currently are under no obligation to deal away the future Hall of Famer and could potentially hold on to him.
In reality, that’s an untenable situation since Lillard clearly no longer wants to be part of the Trail Blazers’ rebuilding project. This coming Saturday, Lillard turns 33 and knows that his window to be part of an NBA championship team is starting to close.
The Heat represent an excellent chance to at least win the Eastern Conference and compete in the finals. After making an impressive postseason run that came up short in the 2023 NBA Finals, the Heat have now reached the finals twice and Game 7 of the conference finals over the past four years.
One of the Heat’s chief rivals is the Celtics, who nearly pulled off a stunning comeback from a 3-0 deficit in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics competed in the 2022 NBA Finals and will continue to be a roadblock, regardless of whether the Heat obtain Lillard.
Lillard is a California native, though the Clippers clearly don’t pique his interest. That franchise remains in search of its first NBA championship, with a string of disappointments in recent years adding to that frustration.
Exactly what the cost for the Heat to acquire Lillard is a question that continues to be floated. The fear of some Heat fans is that the steep cost will damage the team’s depth, making it just as hard for the team to win a title.
Right now, talks between the Trail Blazers and Heat haven’t borne any fruit, though plenty of rumors will remain along the way.