ASK IRA: Are the Blazers clowning the Heat-Lillard process?

Q: If a trade for Damian Lillard is supposed to happen, let it happen. But no need to turn this into a circus on his side or the Heat. – Douglas.

A: Agree. The ball is figuratively in the Trail Blazers’ court. The rhetoric stops when a trade is made. Until then, this is more a Blazers thing than a Damian Lillard thing or a Heat thing. And if Joe Cronin doesn’t want to pull the trigger, then the Blazers general manager will have a youthful backcourt in camp wondering whether the future Hall of Famer is going to take their developmental minutes. And that will make it a Portland circus.

Related Articles

Q: Does Damian Lillard need the Heat more than the Heat needs Lillard? In 11 seasons as a Blazer, Lillard has missed the playoffs entirely three times, and only made it past the first round three times. Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, James Harden are future Hall of Fame guards without much postseason success. Age adjusted, will Lillard be that much better than them in the playoffs at age 33? Is a guarantee of playoff success with Lillard wishful thinking? Maybe that’s one reason why the Heat will only go so far in their offer. – Leonard, Cornelius, N.C.

A: And maybe that also is the reason Damian Lillard has targeted the Heat, knowing they can help him get to where he wants to go. Yes, Damian Lillard needs the Heat (or another leading contender). And that could, indeed, mean he needs the Heat more than the Heat need him.

Q: If the Heat don’t figure out a way to land Damian Lillard in a trade, expect another seventh- or eighth-place finish and another round of the play-in. Jimmy Butler needs Damian Lillard to help carry the load. He was worn out by the middle of the Celtics series. – David, Fort Lauderdale.

A: He also didn’t have Tyler Herro for the end of the Celtics series, or the beginning of the Celtics series, or any of the Knicks series, or any of the Nuggets series, or most of the Bucks series. Do not discount what adding Tyler Herro to the mix means. Basically, the Heat lost Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Cody Zeller from their playoff roster and added Herro, Josh Richardson, Thomas Bryant, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and a more mature Nikola Jovic to that mix. So even without Damian Lillard, an argument still could be made of a net gain.