By Shams Charania, Eric Nehm, Doug Haller, Jason Quick, William Guillory
The Portland Trail Blazers have traded All-NBA guard Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team deal involving the Phoenix Suns, the teams announced Wednesday.
The full trade includes the Blazers receiving Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, the Bucks’ 2029 first-round pick and Bucks draft swaps in 2028 and 2030. The Suns receive Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little, Keon Johnson and Grayson Allen.
Full trade, per source:
– Bucks: Damian Lillard
– Blazers: Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, 2029 first-round Bucks pick and Bucks pick swap
– Suns: Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little, Keon Johnson, Grayson Allen https://t.co/56I888abMs
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 27, 2023
In a statement on behalf of the organization, Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin said he wanted to “express his gratitude to Damian for his 11 storied years with this franchise and for his loyalty to the Portland community. ” Cronin added: “From being the all-time leading points scorer in franchise history to his dedicated commitment to youth throughout Oregon and throughout the Pacific Northwest, Damian is and will always be a titan and a true trailblazer in this city. “
The blockbuster deal had ripple effects that would be felt throughout the league, with other teams seen as possible destinations for Lillard. The Miami Heat have long been believed to be the most likely destination for Lillard, with the NBA superstar making it known that this is his preferred destination. In recent days, reports have surfaced that the Toronto Raptors may end Lillard.
A timeline of the saga that led to Damian Lillard’s trade to the Bucks
In Milwaukee, Lillard will join one of the top players in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo, making the Bucks an instant title favorite. For Portland, it was the end of an era that began in 2012 when Lillard was selected with the sixth pick in that summer’s draft.
Lillard was the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year, a six-time NBA All-Star, a seven-time All-NBA selection and was selected as a member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary team during his time with the Blazers.
The casuals won’t be discussed but the trailblazers fans and the city of Portland that I truly love will be … and they will be discussed for real. Stay focused
I’m excited for my next chapter! @Bucks 🎟️
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) September 27, 2023
End of an era in Portland
It will be a day that lives in infamy for the Trail Blazers franchise, as perhaps its greatest player is traded, but it’s a good haul for Portland and sets a good direction for the future. The Blazers’ core is young and dynamic, with key pieces Scoot Henderson (19 years old), Shaedon Sharpe (20), Anfernee Simons (24) and Ayton (25) in their formative years, along with Matisse Thybulle (26) and Jerami Grant (29) as veteran leaders.
Given the all-out commitment to Henderson as a point guard, the Blazers likely attempted to flip Holiday for an asset, increasing the depth and quality of the roster. It will always be a bittersweet day for Blazers fans, as Lillard is beloved, but a new and definitive course has finally been set in Portland. — Quickly
How Lillard made the Bucks stronger
For the Bucks, Lillard represents a huge swing for the fences. The seven-time All-NBA guard will immediately become the best player shared by two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and immediately form the most dangerous duo of the Eastern Conference. Lillard just put together an All-NBA Third Team season, where he proved he can still perform at an elite level with 32.2 points and 7.3 assists per game.
The Bucks now have two of six players in the entire league who scored at least 30 points per game last season. Add in three-time All-Star Khris Middleton and Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Brook Lopez, and the Bucks just put themselves in position to be the favorites in the East. — Nah
How Lillard will adjust to Milwaukee
As far as how it works on the floor, things should be fine. The Bucks traded their starting point guard to get Lillard, so he just needs to step into Holiday’s spot in the starting lineup. His addition will immediately add a new dimension to everything the Bucks do offensively.
While teams have long dared Bucks point guards to score in the pick-and-roll with Antetokounmpo, Lillard can’t be afforded that chance. Despite never playing together, Antetokounmpo and Lillard could become the league’s most dangerous pick-and-roll duo overnight. — Nehm
Why the Suns moved on from Ayton
Ayton has been the most talked about athlete in Phoenix for most of his time in the desert. The big man’s talent is always obvious. He has size, athletic ability, and shooting touch. What he lacks is a strong and consistent motor. Some nights Ayton’s skill set is intoxicating but often he leaves everyone wanting more.
In the introduction, new coach Frank Vogel said he hopes to “bring Ayton back” to the All-Star level. While it will be interesting to see how Vogel’s defensive-minded approach affects Ayton, it’s no surprise that the organization is ready to move on. Entering his sixth season, Ayton, who is set to make $32 million this season, is who he is. Nurkic might not be as talented — and at 29, he’s also four years older than Ayton — but he might be a better (and cheaper) fit alongside Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal. — Haller
The Raptors missed out on Damian Lillard, but rumors show the status quo isn’t an option
What now for the Heat?
The Heat seem to be all-in on adding Lillard this offseason, and losing him leaves them in a precarious position. Although Miami was able to summon all the might of the Heat Culture and pull off a historic run to the NBA Finals last season, this Heat roster in its current state does not look like it is built to repeat as Eastern Conference champs.
While Tyler Herro is back after missing most of last year’s playoff run, both Max Strus and Gabe Vincent left in free agency this summer. Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry are also a year older. With Dame, the Heat are one of the favorites to win the NBA title. Without him, the future looks uncertain. — Guillory
How will the Heat recover from the loss of Damian Lillard? They can’t stand pat
Lillard issued his trade request in early July after the Blazers failed to make the postseason for the second straight season. The timing of his request coincided with the team’s decision to keep No. 3 of its draft picks and select Henderson instead of trading the pick for proven veteran help.
In late July, the NBA issued a memo to all 30 teams in response to comments made by Lillard and his agent, Aaron Goodwin, about Lillard’s insistence that he only wanted to play for the Heat. The league advised Lillard and Goodwin that any future comments that “suggest that Lillard will not fully perform the services required under his player contract in the event of a trade” will be subject to discipline, as will anything similar. which players or agents comment on advancing. .
Since being drafted by Portland in 2012, Lillard has led the team to eight playoff appearances, but the Blazers have only advanced past the second round once. He averaged at least 30 points per game twice in that span.
He leaves the Blazers with the most points scored in franchise history.
(Photo: Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)