It turns out Damian Lillard wasn’t the only superstar who wanted a trade to Miami this offseason.
Bradley Beal revealed the Heat were his first choice this summer in trade talks during an interview with Marc J. Spears of Andscape.
“So, my initial favorite was Miami,” Beal said. “And so, we call Miami. [Miami president] Pat [Riley] says well I’ll go talk to [owner] Micky [Arison] and figure it out. So he goes, talks to Micky, we go, we hear back [New York] Knicks, Sacramento, Brooklyn a little bit, and then it was Milwaukee and it was one more big team. And that was kind of one of the most difficult things about every trade and every team. And I respect and love every team, but a lot of them just couldn’t do it because the money was just so high….I’m like, ‘OK, what’s Miami doing? Dragging feet.’ And eventually it came to a point to where Miami said they just can’t do it. And that kind of was like [a disappointment]. I was like, ‘Dang, that was my spot.’ But it was eye-opener for sure.
“And that’s why I said I went into everything kind of open-minded and with an open slate. And out of nowhere here comes a dark horse in Phoenix and their aggressiveness pushed me over the top. Milwaukee was very close in the running as well, but they were going to make some moves that I didn’t necessarily like in the trade, too. So, I guess that’s the beauty of having a no-trade clause. You get to have a little bit of say-so in the deal. But in the end, man, it ultimately just felt like Phoenix picked me.”
The Heat’s lack of interest in trading for Beal is notable because of their strong efforts to acquire Lillard later in the summer. Beal was traded in late June and Lillard did not request a trade from Portland until early July, so this was not a case of Miami choosing to pursue one over the other.
Rather, it was a willingness of Miami ownership to pay out Lillard’s contract while being hesitant about Beal’s.
Lillard has four years and $216.2 million remaining on his contract. Beal has four years and $207.7 million left on his deal.
Both Lillard and Beal have dealt with injuries the past two seasons. Beal has been limited to just 90 games since setting a career high in scoring (31.3 points per game) in 2020-21, while Lillard has appeared in 87 games over the same timeframe.
While Lillard is three years older than Beal, he’s remained a superior player despite his injuries. Lillard’s 32.2 points per game last season were a career high.
In the end, though, the Heat were left holding a bag of nothing at the end of the offseason. The Suns swooped in and nabbed Beal at a significant discount after he was spurned by Miami, and the Blazers ignored Lillard’s desire for a Miami move and shipped him to Milwaukee.