The Portland Trail Blazers, Miami Heat and Damian Lillard remain in a holding pattern.
Although there’s a 99.9 percent chance Lillard is traded from Portland and an extremely high chance he lands in Miami, no deal has gotten close to the finish line as the Blazers aren’t particularly keen on what the Heat have to offer.
In fact, things could drag out for awhile – perhaps into the season. Remember, Kevin Durant gave the Brooklyn Nets and ultimatum before the beginning of last season and wasn’t traded until the February trade deadline.
As Portland General Manager Joe Cronin said via Sean Highkin, “We’re going to be patient. If it takes months, it takes months.”
If the Heat could offer four desirable, unprotected first-round picks for Lillard, this trade may already be complete. However, their most worthwhile trade asset is guard Tyler Herro, who would be a redundant player in Portland and is about to kick off a four-year, $130 million deal.
So if Miami’s most attractive chip isn’t attractive to the Blazers, a third team will need to be included to acquire Herro and send picks back to the Heat that Miami can then forward to Portland.
Based on recent reports, there are multiple teams interested in that opportunity; but which teams, from the Blazers’ perspective, could offer the most enticing package of picks for Herro?
Nets, Jazz, Spurs would be ideal teams for Tyler Herro in a Damian Lillard trade
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (h/t RealGM), there is “a framework with Miami where Portland could end up with three, four, at least several first round draft picks.”
Shams went on to add that there are “multiple teams who would trade at least one first round pick for Tyler Herro.”
It’s important to note that Herro is becoming undervalued in this conversation. He’s not just an extra player to be tossed into a trade. He’s a 23-year-old, 6-foot-5 combo guard who’s averaged more than 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists per game each of the past two seasons.
He’s a career 38.3 percent shooter from three, was a member of the All-Rookie Second Team and was the 2021-22 NBA Sixth Man of the Year. So yes – multiple teams should be interested in trading a first-round pick for him.
If this were simply the Heat trading Herro in a vacuum, he would fetch at least a pair of firsts from somebody.
Anyway, the Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz, and San Antonio Spurs have all been mentioned as potential landing spots for Herro at one point or another since Lillard decided he wanted to move from the Blazers to the Heat. All three teams have large stables of first-round picks, including ones that would be alluring to Portland; but which franchise could present the most enticing offer to Cronin?
Third most attractive Tyler Herro trade destination: Brooklyn Nets
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst has already reported the Nets’ potential interest in Herro. Brooklyn would make sense as a landing spot for the Whitnall, Wis. native.
With young, foundational pieces at the wing and center spots in Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and Nic Claxton already on board, adding a 23-year-old scorer and budding playmaker to the backcourt would give the Nets a needed piece that would fit their timeline as they move toward Eastern Conference contention.
Brooklyn has a ton of first-round picks to offer, some of which are their own and some that belong to Phoenix, Philadelphia and Dallas.
Adding a pair of future Suns firsts – say 2027 and 2029, perhaps, when Durant will be in his late 30s – would be a nice pair of assets for the Blazers to add in a Lillard trade.
Second most attractive Tyler Herro trade destination: Utah Jazz
Like the Nets, a Jazz-Herro pairing makes sense as Utah continues to build a young core heading toward future contention. And, like Brooklyn, Utah has a bevy of picks in its stable after trading away its homegrown star, Donovan Mitchell.
The Jazz just added John Collins from the Atlanta Hawks and re-signed Jordan Clarkson. That pair joins Walker Kessler, Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, 2022 first-round pick Ochai Agbaji and 2023 first-rounders Keyonte George and Taylor Hendricks as a young and talented nucleus.
The front office duo of Danny Ainge and Justin Zanik are always on the hunt for more assets, however, and would likely be willing to add Herro to that group for the right price.
The Jazz are armed with 15 first-round picks between 2025 and 2030; surely they would part with a couple of them. Maybe the long sought-after Los Angeles Lakers 2027 first-rounder? Or maybe firsts from the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2025 and 2027 would be nice additions to a Lillard deal?
Most attractive Tyler Herro trade destination: San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have cap room, a franchise centerpiece in Victor Wembanyama, a few solid guard/wing starters, expiring contracts and a load of picks. This makes San Antonio an attractive option for the team, Herro and the Blazers.
Wembanyama is already surrounded by quality young starters in Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell and Jeremy Sochan. What they lack at the moment is a quality point guard either to start or back up Tre Jones.
As a combo guard with underrated playmaking skills, Herro could fit in and give the Spurs shooting around Wemby, whether as a starter or sixth man. Johnson, Vassell and Jones are all capable of bringing the ball up the floor and initiating the offense, and it’s fair to assume Wembanyama will have the ball in his hands quite a bit.
Another ballhandler and, perhaps most importantly, a deadly spot-up shooter in that group would give San Antonio a chance to be good this season while maintaining a young core that can continue to improve.
The Spurs have 14 first-round picks coming down the pike, a handful of which would be attractive to the Blazers. A 2024 Charlotte first-rounder? A first in 2025 via either Atlanta or Chicago? San Antonio controls all of its own picks, as well.
Herro on his own would be worth at least two first-round picks. The best the Heat can offer are three total first-rounders and some swaps, and perhaps Nikola Jovic or Jaime Jaquez Jr., although they might max out as borderline starters. Grabbing a pair of picks from the Nets, Jazz or Spurs would make a Damian Lillard trade much more enticing for the Trail Blazers.