Udonis Haslem laments how close the Heat were to signing Damian Lillard: ‘We weren’t tripping’


Udonis Haslem will no longer be a part of the Miami roster for this 2023/24 campaign, as he retired this summer following a championship-winning 20-year career in the NBA. However, this doesn’t mean he will stop being an important presence for both the Heat squad and the fans, as he will remain close to the organization.

Despite seeing it from the outside, the former veteran remains optimistic about the team’s chances this upcoming year, even though they didn’t make too many roster changes during the offseason. The 43-year-old regrets the fact that the South Beach franchise wasn’t able to complete the Damian Lillard deal.

In a recent interview with Bleacher Report, the power forward recognized he still shares mixed feelings after the Heat failed to lure the ex-Portland star, who is now a Bucks player.

“I thought it was possible,” Haslem admitted. “Once he said he wanted to come to Miami, I thought it was possible.”

Milwaukee ended up hijacking the operation through a blockbuster, three-team deal, and Miami barely traded this summer. In spite of the missed opportunity, Udonis says there’s no time to cry over spilled milk.

“But I think one thing about us is we don’t worry about who we don’t have and what we don’t have,” he shared. “We only worry about who’s in the locker room and what we gotta do. So if he would have came, welcome. But, we weren’t tripping. It’s part of the business.”

Before letting it go, the Heat legend recognized the new Bucks guard’s greatness, realizing that every team in the NBA would do anything to sign him.

“Dame is a hell of a player. I like Dame. I really do like Dame. Who wouldn’t want Dame Lillard? But at the end of the day, we don’t really focus on what we don’t have and who we don’t have,” the 43-year-old said.

Despite not trading in for Lillard, Haslem still believes Miami will conquer the Eastern Conference once again

Even though the former athlete admitted how badly he wanted to see Lillard wear the Heat jersey, he doesn’t believe this affects the team’s chances of leading the Eastern Conference. He doesn’t care about what the experts might say, you can never count Miami out.

“We gonna be fine. I still expect us to win the East,” the three-time champion stated. “… I still expect the East to go through Miami. I don’t care what’s on paper.”

Team president Pat Riley explained why they decided to stay away from the trading craze this offseason, and maintain the team’s core for this upcoming campaign.

“We’re not going to take a wrecking ball to a good team that had some real adversity this year that I felt built some strength,” he explained during the summer. “We have a good team, and probably a great team. We wouldn’t have gone as far as we have. … And so, running it back? Yes. Doing something that can help you with that last step? Yes, if it’s a possibility, and if there’s an opportunity without setting you back while you’re moving forward.”