While the Heat continue to explore options to acquire star guard Damian Lillard from the Trail Blazers, the NBA eliminated one potential option that could have led to Portland delaying a trade, notes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
As part of the league’s ruling that healthy star players can’t sit out from games, the NBA also prohibited teams from making any long-term shutdown “when a star player stops participating in games or plays in a materially reduced role in circumstances affecting the integrity of the game.”
As Jackson notes, ESPN’s Bobby Marks said the rule specifically precludes Lillard and Portland from mutually agreeing for the seven-time All-Star to stay away from the team while it works on a trade. A punishment for disregarding the rule would involve significant fines, per Marks.
While it’s unclear whether either party was exploring that as an option, it won’t be possible anymore. This is advantageous for the Heat, writes Jackson, who says that Portland must decide whether to play Lillard and risk possible injury, which would diminish his value.
There are still a handful of notable free agent point guards available if the Heat don’t get Lillard, such as the recently released Cameron Payne, but the Heat haven’t been actively pursuing one, Jackson writes. According to Jackson’s source, the Heat could look at options that involve Tyler Herro or Josh Richardson as the starting primary ball-handler if the team is unable to land the star guard.
Of the available free agent point guards, Goran Dragic is a veteran option who spent 2015-21 in Miami. Jackson writes that Dragic has interest in joining the Heat.
We have more from the Southeast Division:
- Wizards rookie wing Bilal Coulibaly was one of the 2023 draft’s biggest risers, culminating in him being selected with the No. 7 overall pick. Josh Robbins of The Athletic spoke to three anonymous NBA scouts about Coulibaly, who spent part of the last year playing alongside No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama. The scouts agreed that athleticism and an impressive defensive toolbox and instincts are among Coulibaly’s strengths, while his shooting and physicality are improvement points. However, all scouts appeared to be high on the 19-year-old’s upside. “The sky’s the limit for him,” one anonymous scout said to Robbins.
- Hornets forward P.J. Washington re-signed with Charlotte on a three-year, $46.5MM deal in August, nearly two months after free agency began. While there was some speculation about whether Washington would ultimately return to the Queen City, the 25-year-old forward sounds relieved to be back with the Hornets. “It means the world to me,” Washington said in a video posted by the Hornets social media team (Twitter link). “Obviously, back in 2019, Charlotte took a chance on me and I’m just blessed to be in the position I am today.”
- The Magic announced they signed Brandon Williams and Mac McClung to Exhibit 10 deals on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Orlando’s G League affiliate Osceola Magic acquired the returning player rights to both Williams and McClung. If an Exhibit 10 player is waived by an NBA club before the season begins and spends at least 60 days with that team’s G League affiliate, he can earn a bonus worth up to $75K. This week’s G League trades assure that Williams and McClung can suit up for Osceola this season if and when they are waived by Orlando. Williams was acquired from the College Park Skyhawks in exchange for Joel Ayayi, Robert Baker II and a 2023 G League first-round pick, per the Orlando Sentinel’s Jason Beede (Twitter link), while McClung was acquired from the Delaware Blue Coats in exchange for the rights to Jeff Dowtin and a 2024 G League second-round pick (Twitter link).