Bucks Acquire Damian Lillard From Blazers in 3-Team Blockbuster That Includes Jrue Holiday & Deandre Ayton
I have to admit, I’m at a loss for words… If you were going about your business on Wednesday, thinking this was going to be a “by-the-book” sort of week, think again. The Bucks shocked the sports world yesterday when they acquired perennial all-star Damian Lillard in a three-team blockbuster that might go down as the trade of the decade. Lillard, who had been disgruntled in Portland after sticking with the Blazers through years of tumult, finally got his wish. Or, partly, at least. We’ll discuss. The deal required a third team to get involved, and it was the Phoenix Suns. Three star players are on the move, along with multiple picks, and the Milwaukee Bucks hold all the cards for the next two seasons.
How the Lillard Era Ended in Portland
Lillard was drafted by the Blazers in 2012. He missed the playoffs in his rookie season before taking Portland to the postseason in eight consecutive seasons (2014-2021) before failing to make the playoffs each of the last two years. In those eight trips to the playoffs, the Blazers only reached the conference finals one time — a four-game sweep at the hands of the Warriors. His 11-year tenure in the Pacific Northwest should be celebrated after he gave more to the franchise, and stuck by them through tough times, unlike any star player on a losing team, maybe ever. It all came to a head after this year’s NBA Draft when Portland failed to utilize their draft picks to land high-level free agents. Lillard asked for a trade, specifically to the Miami Heat. When that deal couldn’t be reached, Milwaukee stepped in.
Dame Time By The Numbers
Few players in the modern NBA have been better scorers than Lillard. The deadly sharpshooter is arguably the most deadly sniper in league history not named Stephen Curry. Lillard has averaged 32.2 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.8 rebounds during an 11-year career complete with seven all-star nods. He’s logged 15 games with 50-plus points, five games of 60-plus, and he’s one of just eight players to score 70-plus in a game.
What It Means for Milwaukee
Giannis Antetokounmpo is entering Year 3 of his 5-year, $228 million deal. He’s 28 years old and eligible to opt out after Year 4 (end of next season). Antetokounmpo had been vocal over the past few weeks about taking matters into his own hands if the Bucks continued to squander roster-improving opportunities. It looks like Giannis’ warning shot worked. What does it mean for Milwaukee? Championship expectations, immediately.
The Bucks’ Window of Opportunity
Both Lillard and Giannis are under contract through the 2024-25 season. That means Milwaukee has two seasons to capitalize, or they could both walk in 2025. Giannis would be 30 years old. Lillard would be 34 going on 35. And while the Bucks had to give up Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, and draft picks, they retained Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton and Bobby Portis. That’s a deep six atop the roster. They’ll need depth, but the sky is the limit. Lillard and Giannis… Hard to imagine.
Milwaukee immediately jumped from +750 to +375 odds as the favorites to win the 2024 NBA Finals: Bucks (+375), Nuggets (+425), Celtics (+500), Suns (+550), and Warriors (+1000).
Milwaukee… It’s Dame Time!
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