Damian Lillard, one of Portland Trail Blazers most-beloved stars, will join Giannis Antetokounmpo for Milwaukee in an unexpected turn of events. Following months of speculation and trade demands, Lillard will soon leave Portland after 11 seasons to pursue an NBA championship bid with Milwaukee. This move signals an end to Lillard’s time spent playing on this roster while ushering in new opportunities at Milwaukee aimed at winning championships in basketball.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania first reported on a three-team trade deal involving Lillard being sent from Portland Trail Blazers to Milwaukee Bucks; Jrue Holiday is expected to move between Bucks and Trail Blazers; Deandre Ayton from Phoenix Suns will join Deandre Ayton; Jusuf Nurkic could switch teams as well. These details were made known via an anonymous source given neither team had officially announced this arrangement yet.
Note that, as is true of all trades, finalization of this one depends on NBA attorneys reviewing and approving its terms.
Lillard, an NBA All-Star seven times over and the only Trail Blazers player selected to the 75th anniversary team of the league, marks a momentous shift for his career and Bucks fans; on the other hand, Portland fans and city residents must bid farewell to one of their beloved figures as this change affects them personally.
On his departure, Lillard took to social media, writing, “The casuals won’t be addressed, but the Trailblazers fans and the city of Portland that I love truly will be… and they will be addressed truthfully. Stay tuned. Excited for my next chapter!”
Lillard’s desire for a trade became public knowledge on July 1, as he yearned to compete for a championship with a contending team, which seemed increasingly unlikely with Portland’s current roster.
His preference was to join the Miami Heat, but instead the Trail Blazers chose not to fulfill that request. Instead, Antetokounmpo and Lillard have become one of the Bucks’ key cogs heading into next season’s battleground.
The trade package also includes other players: Nassir Little, Keon Johnson, and Grayson Allen heading to Phoenix, while Toumani Camara goes to Portland. Additionally, draft capital is expected to be part of the deal. This trade signifies the departure of Deandre Ayton from the Suns, leaving Devin Booker as the sole player remaining from the 2021 NBA Finals team that faced the Bucks.
Now, they have completed an incredible trade for Lillard to form an unstoppable roster.
Antetokounmpo, who won two MVP awards during his time with the Bucks, wished to gauge their commitment to winning another championship before entering into an extended contract with them.
The trade has even sparked playful accusations of tampering from Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat, highlighting the league’s competitive nature.
When Lillard’s trade request became public, Trail Blazers’ General Manager Joe Cronin stated his intention to do what was best for the team while reluctantly seeking to accommodate Lillard’s wishes. Notably, one of the assistant coaches on Adrian Griffin’s staff in Milwaukee is Terry Stotts, who previously coached Lillard in Portland from 2012 to 2021.
At its core, trading Lillard to the Bucks proved beneficial to all parties involved. While this deal represented significant investment for Lillard over his next four seasons – including potential earnings of $216 Million should he exercise his option for 2026-27 season – Lillard will likely pay dividends given his proven ability to elevate any team’s championship hopes.
Lillard has proven his offensive prowess with 32.2 points per game average in his most recent season – an eye-popping number in itself! For eight consecutive seasons now he has consistently averaged at least 24 points per game; few other NBA players possess his scoring prowess; in February 2022 against Houston Rockets alone, Lillard recorded one of only nine ever 71-point performances! That distinction places Lillard among an exclusive group in NBA history.
Remarkably, Lillard accomplished this remarkable achievement at only 32 years of age – dispelling any notion that he may be past his prime after 11 NBA seasons.
Lillard left Portland driven by his desire to compete for an NBA championship. However, despite his individual brilliance during this tenure with Portland Trail Blazers only four playoff series victories could be recorded along with one trip to Western Conference Finals; last season they ended with 33-49 record and failed to reach playoffs yet again this year.
However, although Lillard was not responsible for his decline as an individual player, change was needed in Portland’s lineup. While his game-winner against Oklahoma City Thunder in 2019 NBA playoffs remains one of his finest achievements ever seen on an NBA court, his trail Blazer teammates weren’t capable of building championship-caliber squad around him and they needed someone new at point guard to bring some order and focus.
As Damian Lillard embarks upon his exciting new chapter with the Milwaukee Bucks, NBA fans eagerly anticipate its effects and the dynamic possibilities it will present to their league.