ASK IRA: Does Heat’s Tyler Herro have to go if Damian Lillard arrives?

Q: The Heat need to make the math work without including Herro in a trade. – Paolo.

A: And that actually could be a possibility if the Trail Blazers prove willing to accept cap relief in the form of Kyle Lowry and draft capital. There are ways, through the addition of previous Heat agreements, to make that work. But the reality is that in this punitive luxury-tax environment, the Heat might not be positioned to be able to carry the contracts of both Damian Lillard and Tyler Herro, while also carrying the contracts of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. If that becomes the case, you could potentially see a Jordan Poole-type selloff of Tyler. But let’s first get to and past the Lillard issue before going down any further roads in a world where the Heat could wind up with both Dame and Tyler.

Q: Don’t you even think about asking for Nikola Jovic. And, no, you can’t have Jamie Jaquez. Jr. Damian Lillard is 33 not 27, and is due $63 million at 36.  – Swann.

A: I can’t see the Heat allowing either to be a deal stopper. (I can image the fallout if that becomes the case.) That said, Nikola Jovic fits more into the Trail Blazers extended timeline, while Jacquez has more of a game primed for a win-now team. So split the difference, keeping one and part with the other, if need be.

Q: Final shot as time is running out, season on the line, will Jimmy Butler let Damian Lillard take that final shot? I see Jimmy always making the smart basketball play, but sometimes the Alpha has to just take over, and take that final shot. And there is nobody more Alpha than Jimmy. – Dave, Placenta, Calif.

A: I can think of no better problem. And Damian Lillard is every bit of Alpha as Jimmy Butler. Beyond that, imagine if it was Damian and not Jimmy pulling up for those critical playoff threes the past two years, in Game 7 in 2022 against the Celtics and then Game 5 last month against the Nuggets. It is all about what it needed in that moment, if the Heat can get to a Butler-Lillard moment.