2. Miami Heat
Miami stumbled into the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament this season, a far cry from where the Heat expect to finish each campaign. With a core duo of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, Miami is usually a reliable threat in the playoffs.
Perhaps the end of the 2022-23 season will force the brain trust in South Beach to consider a mini rebuild on the fly with the goal of getting younger and more dynamic offensively.
If that’s the case, Simons would make sense as an attractive second piece of any deal involving the Blazers’ lottery selection.
Adebayo played with Lillard on Team USA in the 2020 Olympics, as did Jerami Grant, which is at least part of the reason Grant landed in Portland.
Bam would drastically alter the Blazers defensively. The 25-year-old has been named NBA Second-Team All-Defense each of the last three seasons and is finishing up his best offensive campaign as well, averaging a career-high 20.4 points. He’s always been an underrated facilitator in the frontcourt, too – he averaged more than 5 assists in 2019-20 and 20-21.
Butler could be an under-the-radar thought if Cronin can convince Heat President Pat Riley to partner in a league-wide shakeup. Despite his age, Butler remains an All-NBA player and would provide the Blazers’ young guns a shining of example of the competitive qualities it takes to win.
Nikola Jovic could be an upside play as a possible long-term answer at center, as well, if Portland has interest.