Q: Hello, Ira. I’m confident that sooner or later Damian Lillard will be traded to the Miami Heat. I’m sure the front office for the Heat knows which current Heat players are most likely to be included in the trade. Being that the Heat are already over the cap, current free agents know that they’d have to take the veteran minimum to join the Miami Heat. Is the reason why the Heat front office is still waiting to fill out the rest of the roster because once they acquire Lillard, available free agents may be more inclined to join the Miami Heat at the veteran minimum? Do you think there are a few free agents who have yet to sign with a team because they await the opportunity to make a run at a title with a Lillard, Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler-led team? – Carlos, West Park.
A: The Heat currently have 13 players under standard contract (Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry, Caleb Martin, Kevin Love, Josh Richardson. Duncan Robinson, Thomas Bryant, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Nikola Jovic, Thomas Bryant and Orlando Robinson) and two under two-way contracts (Jamaree Bouyea, Dru Smith). That leaves two standard and one two-way slot open. For now, the waiting game is predicated on the end game with Damian Lillard, and I’m not so sure the Heat can clearly delineate who would be going out in a trade. Further, they also might have to take salary back, either from the Trail Blazers (perhaps Jusuf Nurkic) or from another team involved in a potential multi-team deal. So not only can’t the Heat move ahead with rounding out their roster, they still don’t know how many roster spots will be available, or at what positions. So, we wait.
Q: Do you think if the Damian Lillard trade standoff lasts into the regular season, Tyler Herro will sit out? – Ren, Stuart.
A: Um, no. Tyler Herro is about to begin a four-year extension that could be worth up to $130 million. Coming off his rookie-scale deal, this is his first star-level contract. There is no reason, fiscally or physically, for him to even consider such a decision. Again, he has formally been put into play only twice in his career, for Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard. That is impressive company. Instead of feeling slighted or shunned, he should feel in good company.
Q: I get trying to maximize Jimmy Butler’s window, but I’m starting to feel like maybe the Damian Lillard thing may not happen. If that’s the case, is it actually advantageous to retain our promising young players and picks for a possible run at someone down the line should Luka Doncic become dissatisfied? – Eddie, South Bend, Ind.
A: Knowing the Heat, they probably are game planning for that, as well. Now, if you see the Heat sign Goran Dragic to a three-year contract this summer, then we’ll know something is brewing. (Which they won’t.)