The Trailblazers were effectively booted out of championship contention last Thursday after a 126-115 loss to the Denver Nuggets, losing the series 2-4. After being booted out of the playoffs in the first round four times in the past five seasons, with three of those series being sweeps, it would cause some disgruntlement amongst the Blazers’ top stars in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Both of these players are amongst trade rumors with multiple teams in the NBA; the Miami Heat is a part of both lists. Could one of these players land in Miami? Let’s break down both and find out:
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Lillard has been circulating in trade rumors since the Trailblazers lost their series against the Nuggets. Lillard, the 30-year-old six-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA Point Guard, is coming off one of his best regular seasons yet, averaging 28.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 0.9 steals per game in 67 games. He was effective in shooting the ball with a 45.1% FG shooting percentage and from behind the arc with a 39.1% three-point shooting percentage. He also had a 25.6 player efficiency rating.
In the 2021 postseason, Lillard was ecstatic, averaging 34.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 10.2 assists per game. Lillard is someone who has thrived in the playoffs, and this was his best post-season yet.
Lillard to the Heat would immediately strengthen the Heat’s offense and push them over the hump. One of the Heat’s problems in the playoffs has their inefficiency to score from anywhere on the field effectively. Lillard would be able to turn that around in a snap; he has proven to be one of the best scorers in the NBA right now.
As stated above, he has averaged well over 29 points per game and his effective field goal percentage is 55.4%. He’d add a layer to the Heat offense that it has been missing this season.
What would have to be traded?
Of course, there is a big asking price for one of the league’s best PGs. Also, Lillard signed a big contract extension this season for four years that is worth $176.26 million. The Heat have to make room in cap space to be able to pay him his fair share.
Now who and what will be traded? The Heat doesn’t have a lot of picks to work with as they only have one tradeable pick at this moment in the next seven years, a 2024 second-rounder. That won’t be very useful in this trade. Of course, we could see Tyler Herro being included in this trade; that isn’t a surprise. However, could we see one of the Heat’s biggest stars included as well?
A name being tossed around is Bam Adebayo. Trading Adebayo would be beneficial for both sides as the Trailblazers have now a young PF/C to build around and the Heat now have a dominant scoring front-court that could do some damage in the regular season. Of course, the Heat could have to fill in the hole left by Adebayo, but I’m sure Pat Riley has plans to do that.
Do I personally think Bam will be traded? No, but it could happen. If it does happen, however, I’m sure most Heat fans wouldn’t mind.
If the Heat can’t land Lillard, the Heat can always turn to SG CJ McCollum. McCollum has also had rumors going around in being traded to Heat so much so that an NBA insider has suggested it could happen. McCollum, 29 and a former MIP award winner, is a solid scorer, averaging 23.1 points (career-high), 3.9 rebounds, and 4.7 assists (career-high) this season, shooting 45.8% from the field in 47 games. He’s also a great three-point shooter, shooting 40.2% from behind the arc.
In the 2021 postseason, McCollum averaged 20.7 points, six rebounds, and 4.3 assists in their six-game series versus the Nuggets.
While he may not be the best defensive player (118.0 defensive efficiency rating), he would add a huge scoring element to the Heat roster, adding to the frontcourt with Jimmy Butler. McCollum would also add another star to the roster, bolstering the Heat team overall.
What would have to be traded?
At this moment, the Heat are over the league’s salary cap, but when players are released/traded, it should be alleviated shortly. McCollum carries a three-year, $100 million contract, and he is set to be owed $30.864 million next season.
The Heat is going to have to do their fair share to lead McCollum to the Heat. Luckily, it won’t cost one of their bigger stars in Butler or Adebayo. I could see Herro being traded in this situation, along with Duncan Robinson signing to a sign-and-trade deal this offseason. It would be a solid return as the Blazers would get young talent while the Heat adds yet another star to their starting line-up.
Could I see this happening? Yes. The Heat need another solid star in the starting lineup, and McCollum is trending upwards each season. He could be the answer moving forward.
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