Ira Winderman: What’s different about Tyler Herro trade rumors this summer? Maybe Damian Lillard

Ira Winderman: What’s different about Tyler Herro trade rumors this summer? Maybe Damian Lillard

This time it feels different with Tyler Herro and the Miami Heat.

This time it doesn’t feel like the made-up 2021 blather during his second offseason of supposed management souring on attitude and work ethic.

This time it doesn’t feel like last summer, of a name tossed around during his third offseason simply because of so many intriguing names being tossed about elsewhere (also known as the NBA’s 2022 Summer of Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell).

This time, through no fault of his own, the prospect of a Herro trade has tangible elements in play.

To wit:

— Coincidence or otherwise, the Heat’s best play this season has come with Herro sidelined by the broken right hand he sustained in the first half of the Heat’s playoff opener.

— With the Heat’s playoff breakout, they have shown they can win, at the highest levels, without their 2019 first-round pick out of Kentucky. (Which is not to say the path might not have been eased by Herro’s presence, certainly with this lack of scoring against the Nuggets.)

— Unlike last summer (or the summer before) when Herro had only the nominal price tag of a rookie-scale contract attached, as of July 1 his contract will stand at $27 million for 2023-24 for trade purposes, making it easier to facilitate deals.

— And unlike this season, the poison pill restriction on his contract expires on June 30, again making it possible to put him in play in a dollar-for-dollar trade.

— Also, with Herro starting his four-year, $130 million extension next season, an acquiring team would control his contract for the next four years, in his prime, through his 27th birthday.

Beyond the tangible, there also is a playing style that does not necessarily mesh with the Heat’s undeniable leading men.

With Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, the Heat already attempt an ample diet of mid-range shots. With Herro also in that lineup, it could be argued the Heat take too many. At times during this past season, that stood as an element of consternation with coach Erik Spoelstra.

In fact, if Herro does return, an argument could be made that the best fit might again be off the bench for the winner of the NBA’s 2022 Sixth Man of the Year Award.

That wouldn’t necessarily mean a full-time reserve role, with Herro available to be called back up to the starting unit during those 20 or so regular-season games that 34-year-old Butler will skip, a total that practically stands as a given.

So why the trade conjecture now, during the NBA Finals?

Because star guard Damian Lillard decided it was time for trade talk with his appearance on The Last Stand podcast hosted by ESPN personality Brian Custer.

That’s when, asked about a possible trade if his preference of the Portland Trail Blazers building a contending cast around him could not be accomplished, Lillard said, “Miami, obviously.”

A laugh followed.

“Miami is the obvious one,” he continued. “And Bam is my dog.”

Adebayo and Lillard grew close during Team USA’s run to the 2021 Olympic gold in Tokyo.

And for a team in win-now mode, as Butler ages, Lilliard turning 33 might not stand as much of a concern as elsewhere.

With Lillard to earn $45.6 million next season, Herro’s contract would stand as an ample starting point to create the matching dollars, something that wasn’t the case before Herro signed his extension.

Beyond that, the Heat are limited with assets, but could throw in their upcoming 2023 first-round pick (by selecting for the Trail Blazers and moving the player after July 1), 2022 first-round selection Nikola Jovic, a future first-round pick and, while not optimal, the value contract of Caleb Martin.

Could other teams offer more? Certainly. But Lillard, even in the void of a no-trade clause, as a Blazers franchise icon certainly could guide them in the direction of a preferred destination.

But even beyond Lillard, the simple truth of non-Herro playoff success could lead the Heat to explore alternatives.

Rare is the opportunity to explore two months of the highest level of basketball to see how you might fare in the absence of a player about to move to the top of your salary scale. The Heat are just about to complete those two months.

When it comes to his lineups and rotations, Spoelstra is wont to say that everything is on the table.

With Herro, the 2023 offseason has that sense, as well.

And this time it is not because of manufactured storylines.


MAKES SENSE: Among the talking points in the NBA executive suite during the NBA Finals has been the possible addition of an extra coach’s challenge after a successful challenge. Currently, that option is lost regardless of the ruling, although the timeout utilized is returned. “I think that would be good, yeah,” Spoelstra said. “I think it would be good. I don’t know what the unintended consequences are, but I always feel like if I burn one whenever, early in a game and you win it, it’s like, ‘Oh, geez, I would like to have another one.’ Spoelstra, though, said an unintended consequence would be players being even more vociferous in calling for challenges on marginal plays. “Then we’re dealing with,” Spoelstra said, “if that is the case, then all the players starting the first minute of the game (twirls finger in the air, the signal for a challenge). I hate that, as well.” The compromise could be such adaptation only in the playoffs, when stakes are highest, rather than adding time to regular-season games.

BACK AT IT: Having had former Heat assistant David Fizdale at his side while coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, new Phoenix Suns coach Frank Vogel said hiring his former Heat coaching rival only made sense at this latest stop. “His championship pedigree as an assistant coach and the fact that he’s been a head coach in this league is always comforting to have someone like that on your staff that has been through all the decisions that go into managing this position,” Vogel said of Fizdale, who had been working as an executive on Dwyane Wade‘s staff with the Utah Jazz. Fizdale, 48, was an assistant under Vogel in 2021-22 when the Lakers went 33-49. He previously had been a Heat assistant under Spoelstra in a pair of Eastern Conference finals against Vogel’s Indiana Pacers during the Big Three era.

BACK AT IT, TOO: Yes, that has been former Heat forward Mike Miller making the rounds at the Finals at Kaseya Center. Miller is the agent for Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero, who has been doing work for NBA TV during the finals. Miller has a unique perspective on the series, as a two-time champion during the Heat’s Big Three era and as a Nuggets teammate of Nikola Jokic during Jokic’s rookie season. Of Jokic’s emergence, Miller told DNVR sports, “I’m not going to sound like I’m crazy and say that I thought he’d be a two-time MVP and be on this stage like this. But I did. I really did. That’s just how good he was and how good he is.”

VILLANOVA DREAM TEAM: As Banchero made his rounds at Kaseya Center, he stopped at Kyle Lowry‘s media session and asked the Heat point guard about his alma mater and all-time Villanova starting five. “Oh, man,” Lowry said. “That’s a tough question from the Rookie of the Year right now, know what I’m saying?” Lowry then included former Heat forward and broadcaster Ed Pinckney in his mix. “My all-time starting lineup of Villanova would be, got to go with Ed Pinckney for sure,” he said. “I’m going to go with Tim Thomas. I’m going to go with Randy Foye. I’m going to go with me. I’m going to go with Mikal Bridges.” Lowry added, “Then Jalen (Brunson), Josh (Hart), they’ll be my sixth and seventh man. I like that lineup. I’m happy with that.”


19. NBA Finals that Heat President Pat Riley has been a part of: three as a player, one as an assistant coach, nine as a head coach and six as an executive. Overall, that has Riley a part of 24.7 percent of all NBA Finals in league history. Of his appearances, Riley has nine championships: one as a player: one as assistant coach, five as head coach and two as an executive.