Sixers given an unexpected opportunity after shocking Dame Lillard trade

Nba sixers
Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) drives to the basket as Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) defends, during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Monday, May 2, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

After an offseason jam-packed with multiple summers worth of drama, it seems like the dust might start settling on the new NBA landscape. While the shocking Dame Lillard trade did open a perfect opportunity for the Sixers and James Harden, it’s not the homecoming deal for Holiday like many fans hoped. It’s actually Tyler Herro…

The Dame trade & an unexpected opportunity for the Sixers

Not only did this move Dame to request a trade out of the Blazers’ rebuild, it prompted him to demand a deal to one singular team: the reigning Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat. Portland was reportedly disinterested in the Heat’s proposed trade packages, though, and weeks went by in a standoff, leading to a barrage of conflicting reports, and even a drastically dramatic storyline in which Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, informed other teams not to try to trade for Dame, as he would be discontent and only wants to play for Miami.

Sixers
LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 03: Portland Trail Blazers Guard Damian Lillard (0) points to a teammate during a NBA game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Clippers on December 3, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

As the summer dragged on with little movement within the discussions between the Blazers and the Heat, other teams started to join the fray despite Goodwin’s warning including the Toronto Raptors, Phoenix Suns, and even the Sixers. Some organizations were dubbed as dark-horse contenders to trade for Lillard themselves, while others were named as potential facilitators to help Miami swing the deal.

Ultimately, though, the Milwaukee Bucks shocked the NBA world by acquiring Lillard in a three-team trade alongside the Phoenix Suns.

Portland Trail Blazers received:

G Jrue Holiday

C Deandre Ayton

F Toumani Camara

2029 unprotected first-round pick via MIL

2028 and 2030 first-round pick swap rights via MIL

Milwaukee Bucks received:

G Damian Lillard

Phoenix Suns received:

C Jusuf Nurkic

F Nassir Little

G Keon Johnson

G Grayson Allen

Upon the trade breaking, the NBA world didn’t take long to move on from the end of the Dame trade sage to the next big storyline. Jrue Holiday, going into his age-33 season, has found himself on a rebuilding team loaded with young, prospective guards like Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, and rookie Scoot Henderson.

It became instantly apparent to anyone with knowledge of the NBA that Holiday wouldn’t be sticking around with his new team for very long. Before Lillard could even post his eight-page farewell letter to Rip City, rumors started flooding in of prospective suitors for Holiday’s vaunted two-way services, as his inclusion in the deal was always meant to be the first part of a massive overhaul for the Trail Blazers.

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Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) passes the ball behind his back against Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (21) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, April 2, 2023, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

With Dame making his way to the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers are now left as the sole team with a disgruntled superstar trying to force his way out. Jrue Holiday’s sudden availability immediately raised alarm bells for the Sixers faithful, hopeful for a potential reunion.

While the Lillard trade did open a perfect opportunity for the 76ers and James Harden, it’s not the homecoming deal for Holiday like many fans hoped. It’s actually Tyler Herro.

An unlikely ‘Herro’ joining the Sixers?

The biggest loser of the Dame trade had to be the Miami Heat, who failed to find a way to acquire a star who publicly stated that he only wanted to play for them. Not only did they miss out on one NBA All-75 team member, the Milwaukee Bucks getting Lillard meant that they were able to appease Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had made his conditional loyalty to his franchise clear earlier in the summer. The Greek Freak was not-so-secretly Miami’s Plan B in the case that they weren’t able to add Dame, and, now, with one singular trade, both of the Heat’s schemes have been foiled.

Luckily for them, there is still an All-75 member looking for a new home; one that could also greatly improve their offensive creation and title chances: James Harden. While Joe Cronin and the Portland Trail Blazers found the Heat’s package underwhelming, it matches perfectly with Harden’s price tag at the moment.

Jrue Holiday would be a fantastic addition for any playoff-caliber team, but he wouldn’t do much to solve the Sixers’ half-court offensive woes, evidenced by his performance in the Bucks’ first-round meltdown at the hands of the Miami Heat. Philly will have a championship-level defense so long as Joel Embiid is manning the middle. What they really need is an additional ballhandler who can create offense consistently for himself and make tough shots, someone like Tyler Herro.

NBA sixers
Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) drives to the basket as Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) defends, during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Monday, May 2, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Herro has had troubles maintaining his efficiency and his availability in the playoffs, but he’s proven to be a reliable on and off-ball scorer with the Heat. Boy Wonder has averaged over 20 points and four assists per game, while shooting north of 44 percent from the field and 38 percent from deep. Herro has done this while switching between roles as a starter and a sixth-man for Miami, largely receiving the bulk of the perimeter defensive attention from all of their opponents.

He has enough playmaking in his bag to run a Sixers offense that features plenty of secondary creation with Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid. He’s a solid pick-and-roll ballhandler and should thrive running screen actions with the reigning MVP. Herro has also shown the ability to carry an offense in the clutch, something the Sixers have desperately lacked since Jimmy Butler left town.

Furthermore, grabbing Holiday from the Trail Blazers will likely cost the Sixers additional assets alongside James Harden in a deal. Pivoting to Herro should bring back more pieces to help Philly’s title chances, either on the court or in further moves down the road.

As for James Harden and the Miami Heat, it’ll be an interesting experiment to see whether the Beard’s usual antics will win, or if the vaunted Heat Culture can finally turn one of the most unserious superstars in NBA history into a bona fide winner.

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier