Even for those disappointed about the Heat not landing Damian Lillard, let’s acknowledge this:
1). He has handled the aftermath of the trade rumors with professionalism and class, while speaking candidly about the situation.
2). As a veteran scout mentioned, he has been under-sold in offseason trade speculation. Even though the Trail Blazers ultimately extracted a package more appealing to them, Portland was “totally undervaluing Herro” in being so dismissive of the Heat’s assets, the scout said.
Keep in mind that Herro is the youngest player in Heat history to average 20 points in consecutive seasons. He’s the best clutch free throw shooter in the league and made an NBA record 42 for 42 in the fourth quarter last season.
In the final minute of one possession games last season, Herro had the third highest shooting percentage in the league (10 for 20), among those who took at least 20 shots. Only Jimmy Butler (12 for 21) and De’Aaron Fox (17 for 33) were better.
“People don’t understand just how lethal he is in those moments,” president Pat Riley said this summer. “He gets bigger in the biggest of moments. You’ve seen it time and again.”
Per NBA podcaster Brett Usher, Herro is one of only 12 players in history to make at least 600 three-pointers in his first four seasons. Of those 12, over that span, Herro shot the sixth best percentage on threes (38.3 percent), trailing only Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver, Buddy Hield and Heat teammate Duncan Robinson.
As Five Reasons Sports noted, Herro is one of only 13 players in the past two seasons with at least 370 three pointers and at least 500 assists.
As The Ringer noted, Herro is one of only 12 players this century to average 20 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists at age 23 or younger. Nearly all of the others are Hall of Famers or on Hall of Fame tracks:
Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Jayson Tatum, Ja Morant and Luka Doncic.
Among those drafted into the NBA since 2019, Herro is one of only six players who have averaged at least 20 points per game in the regular season at least twice during their careers. The others: Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Darius Garland and Morant.
Herro has discussed his eagerness this season to make himself essentially a non-starter, from a Heat perspective, in trade talks. “Honestly, my goal this year is to get my name untouchable,” Herro told our Anthony Chiang. “At the end of this season, they won’t want to trade me. That’s my goal.”
When I spoke with Herro last week, he filled in a couple of more details on the machinations this summer and where he goes from here.
He said his agent, Jeff Schwartz, spoke to Pat Riley “multiple times throughout the summer. He never said they offered me [in a trade]. [But] he never said they didn’t.
“He said they never really had real communication all summer with Portland because of Portland’s side of things. For that reason, I don’t believe I was really ever offered on the table thoroughly because Portland never really wanted to engage with Miami.”
Riley did tell Schwartz this over the summer, per Herro: “Pat told my agent, ‘At the end of the day, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen, but if it were to happen, he’s going to get traded for a top 75 player.’ That would be Dame, or KD [Kevin Durant] last summer.”
Could he understand the Heat offering him, in theory, for only two top 75 all-time players?
“I could understand that,” he said. “I was a little frustrated just with the communication all summer. I wanted to feel a little more involved in the process if it were to happen.”
Riley, speaking of Herro, told The Associated Press this week: “We have never shopped him and had no interest in ever trading the guy.”
Among Heat people who reached out to him during the summer: former teammate Udonis Haslem, who stayed in contact multiple times a week and reminded him how much he has accomplished here; and Erik Spoelstra, who called him during the summer, which Herro appreciated, even though Spoelstra wasn’t in position to guarantee there wouldn’t be a trade.
Spoelstra and Herro were having lunch at a Coconut Grove restaurant in late September when Herro checked his phone and informed Spoelstra that Lillard had been traded to Portland, as the Ringer reported last week.
Herro said he’s in a good place with the Heat and holds no grudges.
He hasn’t spoken to ownership but “I’ve shortly spoken to Pat. We probably will reconnect some time before the season officially starts,” he said last week.
“Pat said he’s happy to see me, happy for me to be back around. I wasn’t part of the organization all summer. I was on the fence if I was going to be here or if I was going to be traded. I didn’t have much communication with them all summer. To come back and see everybody, they were excited to see me.”
Despite the annoyance of being linked to trade rumors, Herro decided he would not ask for a trade, even though some around him encouraged him to do that.
“A lot of people have their opinions of what I should do,” he said. “Everyone around me supports my decisions and what I want to do.
“Of course, I’ve got people that don’t like when I’m getting disrespected so they’re going to definitely tell me I should do certain things. At the end of the day, my family is here, I’ve got two kids that live here in Miami. My parents pretty much live here. I have four or five of my friends who live in Miami from Milwaukee now. This is where I want to be.
“I understood it was a business. I’m not going to take it too personal. People are going to say their opinions and I should request a trade and do this. But I’m good where I’m at.”
He and his family are enjoying a new home in Pinecrest.
Though teams will continue, at times, to attack him defensively, keep in mind that the players defended by Herro last season shot worse (48.4 percent) than they did against Donovan Mitchell (48.8), Josh Hart (48.6) and Lillard (50.9).
The 48.4 percent -- a statistic that doesn’t measure blow-bys or take into account help defenders -- was 19th among shooting guards, tied with Trae Young, and barely worse than 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart’s field goal percentage allowed (48.2).
As Herro told The Athletic in one of many sit-downs with reporters this month, “I don’t feel like I have anything to prove to anybody…. [The narrative is] always changing. At first, they said I couldn’t be a 20-point scorer. Then, I became a 20-point scorer, now I’m just a scorer. And my assist and rebound numbers go up every year. No one can put a ceiling or a cap on my value because every year I get better.”
So you can, if you wish, look back wistfully at a Lillard trade that never materialized, and that’s a reasonable way for anyone to feel.
But also know that in four years, when Lillard is making $63.2 million as a 37-year-old point guard, Herro will be in his prime, earning $33 million at 27.
And Herro, now and four years from now, will possess a supreme offensive skill set and the proverbial chip on the shoulder.
The Heat listed guard Josh Richardson (foot) and forward Haywood Highsmith (knee) as out for Wednesday’s opener against Detroit at Kaseya Center (7:30 p.m., Bally Sports Sun). They’re the only players on the injury report for Miami.
Highsmith will miss at least two weeks with a sprained MCL. Richardson said he’s optimistic he will return soon and that an MRI showed nothing serious with his foot.