Blazer’s Star Damian Lillard Traded to the Bucks

Blazer's Star Damian Lillard Traded to the Bucks
Blazer's Star Damian Lillard Traded to the Bucks

When Damian Lillard was asked to name a player he’d want on his team, he said Giannis Antetokounmpo.

It’s going to happen immediately.

Portland Trail Blazers traded Damian Lillard to play with Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. This ends his 11-year run with the Trail Blazers and a three-month story about his desire to be moved somewhere else to win an NBA championship.

The seven-time All-Star, who was so good that he was chosen for the NBA’s 75th-anniversary team, moves from the Trail Blazers to the Bucks in a three-team deal that also sends Jrue Holiday from the Bucks to Portland, Deandre Ayton from Phoenix to Portland, and Jusuf Nurkic from the Blazers to the Suns. As is always the case with trades, NBA lawyers reviewed the terms and agreed to the deal Wednesday night.

“I won’t talk to random people, but I will talk to Trailblazers fans and the city of Portland, which I really love, and I will tell them the truth. “Stay tuned,” Lillard posted on X, which used to be called Twitter. “I’m looking forward to the next part!”

On July 1, it was announced that Lillard had asked the Trail Blazers for a trade. He had been thinking about this for a while, since he wanted to play for a contender, and Portland didn’t seem to have much of a chance with its present roster.

He made it clear that he wanted to go to Miami Heat. Portland disagreed, so Lillard and Antetokounmpo are now on the Bucks, giving them a powerful 1-2 punch going into the new season.

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“Damian Lillard is one of the best players in our league, and we’ve always liked him,” said Bucks general manager Jon Horst. “These chances are rare and hard to measure and act on.”

In May 2022, Lillard was asked on Twitter which present player he would want to help him get to the playoffs. He only said one word: “Giannis.”

Also part of the deal are the moves of Nassir Little, Keon Johnson, and Grayson Allen to Phoenix and Toumani Camara to Portland. Milwaukee gives Portland a first-round pick in 2029 and the right to trade its first-round picks in 2028 and 2030. By moving Ayton, the Suns only have Devin Booker left from the team that played Milwaukee in the 2021 NBA Finals.

The trade is part of the major changes the Bucks have made since their shocking first-round playoff loss to Miami.

After that, they fired coach Mike Budenholzer and brought in Adrian Griffin, who had worked as an assistant for the Toronto Raptors for the past five years. Now, they have moved Holiday, who has been an All-Star twice, for Lillard, who has been an All-NBA player seven times.

Antetokounmpo, a two-time MVP, told The New York Times in the summer that he wanted to see how dedicated the Bucks are to winning another championship before choosing whether to sign a long-term contract to stay in Milwaukee. This is why the Bucks bought Lillard.

Antetokounmpo’s deal runs through the 2024–25 season, and the player has an option for the following season, 2025–26.

Bringing Lillard to Milwaukee shows that they are serious about making a change. It also keeps the high-scoring guard from going to Miami, one of the Bucks’ biggest rivals in the East.

“Yo, NBA, man, y’all need to look into the Bucks for tampering,” Heat star Jimmy Butler said in a video shared to Instagram soon after the trade was made public. “You guys do. I’m just going to say that.”

When the Blazers made Lillard’s trade request public, general manager Joe Cronin said he would do “what’s best for the team” while grudgingly trying to make Lillard’s dreams come true. Terry Stotts, Lillard’s head coach in Portland from 2012 to 21, is one of Griffin’s backups in Milwaukee.

In the end, Cronin and the Blazers thought the deal with the Bucks was best for everyone. It took a huge deal to make the trade happen, especially since Lillard is owed much money over the next four years. He will make almost $46 million this season, and if he takes advantage of his option for the 2026-27 season, he could make as much as $216 million over the next four years.

It will be a big investment that might pay off well since getting Lillard could make the Bucks a stronger candidate for the title. This past season, he averaged 32.2 points, at least 24 points in the last eight seasons. He has a scoring spark that few NBA players have.

Cronin said, “I want to thank Damian for his 11 years of service to this team and his dedication to the Portland community.” “Damian is and will always be a titan and a true trailblazer in this city. He is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, working hard to help kids in Oregon and the rest of the Pacific Northwest.”

Lillard scored 71 points against the Houston Rockets on February 26. He was only the seventh player in NBA history to score more than 70 points in a game. Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, David Thompson, David Robinson, Elgin Baylor, and Donovan Mitchell are also on that list. Wilt Chamberlain did it five times.

All the other six players on that list had their games with 71 points or more when they were between the ages of 23 and 28. Lillard was 32 when he had his game with 71 points or more, which shows that, even after 11 NBA seasons, he’s still in his prime.

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He’s done a great job. The Blazers still need to do so. And it was clear that he didn’t think that would change soon.

People in Portland loved Lillard, but rumors about his future with the team grew when the Blazers took point guard Scoot Henderson with the No. 3 pick in the June draft instead of trading the pick for a proven player who could help the team become a contender right away.

In Lillard’s 11 years with the team, Portland only won four playoff games and made it to the Western Conference Finals once. The team went 33–49 last season, making it the second Year in a row they didn’t come close to making the playoffs.

Lillard is not to blame for that. His career average of 25.2 points per game puts him in 11th place among all NBA players who have played at least 500 games. He has had 17 games with at least 50 points in his career, including two in the playoffs. He has also won the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, teammate of the Year, and Citizenship award.

He has won an Olympic gold medal, was voted MVP of the seeding games when the “bubble” season started back up at Walt Disney World during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and even won the 3-point contest at All-Star weekend in February.

And he is great at making things surprising. His step-back 3-pointer over Paul George from almost 40 feet away as time ran out to win the series against Oklahoma City and knock them out of the 2019 NBA playoffs is one of the most famous moments in Portland and NBA history.

Horst said, “His personality, competitiveness, talent, and experience fit in well with our group and give us the best chance to win at the highest level as we make new memories together.”

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