For a while, it felt like the odds were stacking in Miami’s favor. After coming off a Cinderella playoff run, the stars appeared to be aligning (again) for them to get even better. All indications were that Damian Lillard would be added to the mix. If that weren’t enough, Tyler Herro, who barely factored into their latest playoff run, would headline the trade package going back to Portland. That was a terrifying prospect for the Boston Celtics after falling to the Heat yet again. But, of course, that’s not what would transpire.
After Damian Lillard and his representation tried to do everything in their power to get him down to South Beach, Joe Cronin played the long game, heard all of the noise, gave Lillard enough time to compromise, and bam, next thing we knew, Dame Time was going to Wisconsin. When it was all said and done, Cronin made it clear that he made the rules, not Pat Riley. Worse yet, he sent them to the very team that Miami humiliated back in April, who is probably looking for some payback. No matter what anyone thinks of the package Portland got back for Lillard, one thing for certain is that Cronin gave Riley and Co. the finger when they turned them down.
And it wouldn’t be long before they did it again.
How trading Jrue Holiday to the Boston Celtics proved to be another middle finger to Miami
Following Adrian Wojnarowski’s original report of Lillard’s trade to Milwaukee, he followed it up with another report that Holiday wasn’t long for Portland. Perhaps Holiday would be a contingency plan for the Heat after the Lillard pursuit failed? NOPE! Holiday was going to Boston. Maybe it wouldn’t be a big deal if Miami wasn’t that interested, but, according to Brian Windhorst, they were.
So to recap, the Heat bet their offseason on a blockbuster trade for Damian Lillard. Not only did it not happen, but they sent him to one of their best competitors in the Eastern Conference, thus leaving them with more or less the same roster minus Max Strus and Gabe Vincent. Then, they traded Holiday, whom the Heat also coveted, to another top competitor in the Eastern Conference. In summation, Cronin denied Miami the opportunity to improve twice while helping their rivals do just that in less than a week’s span.
While it’s likely that Cronin simply liked what those other teams had to offer more, Cronin gave Miami the double deuce primarily because of the prevailing theory beforehand that the Heat held all the cards in the Lillard trade discussions. Cronin wanted to show them that he was in the driver’s seat, and the best way to get his point across was to trade his best assets to teams who were sure to let Miami know exactly what they were missing. Ergo, Lillard is a Buck, and Holiday is a Celtic.
Holiday’s abilities as a top-notch two-way guard would have fit on every NBA team imaginable. Now that he’s in Boston, Miami will likely have to go through him and his new team if they want to return to the NBA Finals. While naysayers will point to Holiday’s porous performance against the Heat in the playoffs – 17.8 points on 40/29/69 shooting splits, per ESPN – evidently, not even the Heat themselves held that against him when they tried to acquire him from Portland.
There are some risks to Holiday going to the Boston Celtics with the package they gave up to get him, but the Cs at least can take solace knowing that, above all else, they won’t have to go up against him on arguably their biggest rival over the past three years. One could argue they gave up a little too much to get Holiday to Boston, but among the biggest plusses is he’s not on the Miami Heat.
Of course, it’s all fun and games until you realize that even if their package wasn’t good enough to land Dame, Miami could potentially offer something enticing enough to scoop up Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams III. Still, there’s no way Portland would cross Boston like that.
Sure, they kind of crossed Milwaukee when they traded Holiday, a known Dame stopper who will probably enter this coming season with a grudge, to their best competition in the East. There’s no way they’d do the same to the Boston Celtics…