According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski early Wednesday afternoon, Damian Lillard has been traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team deal with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Phoenix Suns.
Portland will get Jrue Holiday from Milwaukee, Deandre Ayton and Toumani Camara from Phoenix, the Bucks’ unprotected 2029 first-round draft pick and unprotected swap rights with Milwaukee in 2028 and 2030.
The Suns will receive Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson from the Trail Blazers, in addition to Grayson Allen from Milwaukee.
After being loyal to Portland for 11 seasons and leading the franchise to eight postseason appearances, the 33-year-old Lillard finally requested a trade after back-to-back seasons in which the Trail Blazers have failed to make the playoffs.
The seven-time All-Star led Portland to the Western Conference finals in 2018-19. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in both points (19,376) and 3-pointers made (2,387) and is second in assists (5,151).
Lillard played in 58 games this past season before he was shut down in the final month to remain healthy. He averaged a career-best 32.2 points per game. Lillard also averaged 7.3 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 0.9 steals per game.
In 769 career games for Portland, Lillard averaged 25.2 points, 6.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.0 SPG. He hit 37.2 percent of his 3-point attempts and 89.5 percent of his free throws.
Wojnarowski reports that the Trail Blazers are committed to their young guards, including first-round pick Scoot Henderson who they took with the No. 2 overall pick. Therefore, they are actively shopping Holiday and expected to deal the 14-year veteran out of UCLA.
Holiday certainly has a lot of miles on his tires, but he has been considered one of the NBA’s premier two-way guards for most of the last decade. In fact, many consider him among The Association’s top handful of perimeter defenders.
Holiday averaged 19.3 points, 7.4 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 SPG in 67 regular-season games last year. When Milwaukee won the NBA title in 2020-21, Holiday averaged 17.3 points, 8.7 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 SPG in 23 postseason contests.
Phoenix makes out extremely well in this deal, too, especially by getting rid of Ayton and his bad contract. Plus, the Suns add needed depth to their roster that’s top heavy with the dynamic trio of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.
Nurkic, a 29-year-old 7-footer, can step into the role Ayton filled as the club’s starting center. The 10-year veteran averaged 13.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.8 blocked shots per game for Portland last year. Nurkic averaged a double-double in four of his seven seasons with the Trail Blazers.
Little is a 6-foot-5 wing who is entering his fifth season in The Association and is still only 23. His best year was in 2021-22 when he started 23 times in 42 appearances for Portland, averaging 9.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.9 blocked shots and 0.6 SPG.
Allen started 70 of 72 regular-season games for the Bucks last year, averaging 10.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 0.9 SPG. He hit 39.9 percent of his treys and 90.5 percent of his free throws. The 27-year-old can provide scoring, athleticism and perimeter shooting from off the bench.
Johnson started 12 of 22 games for Portland as a rookie two seasons ago, logging an average of 25.5 minutes per game. He averaged 9.7 points, 2.9 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 SPG.
This three-way deal obviously impacted the NBA futures market. Miami, long considered to be the favorite to acquire Lillard, saw its odds of winning the 2023-24 NBA championship elevated from +600 to +2500 (or 25/1) at Caesars Sportsbook.
Milwaukee went from around +850 odds at most shops to the +350 ‘chalk’ at the Westgate SuperBook. FanDuel moved the Bucks to +360 favorites.
The SuperBook also adjusted the Bucks’ season win total from 52.5 to 55.5. According to tweets from the Westgate’s Jeff Sherman, Phoenix’s win total went from 50.5 to 51.5, while Miami’s dipped from 48.5 to 45.5.
Portland’s win total was moved from 23.5 to 22.5. The Trail Blazers are the NBA biggest longshots at the Westgate, with 1,000/1 odds to win the title.
I certainly like this deal for the Bucks and Suns. Depending on what sort of compensation Portland can acquire for the services of Holiday (and possibly Ayton as well?), the Trail Blazers will probably accumulate more assets for their rebuilding project.