Requesting a trade with the Miami Heat as his preferred destination near the start of free agency, Damian Lillard has finally been moved by the Portland Trail Blazers. On September 27, the Blazers agreed to trade Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Lillard goes Milwaukee as part of a 3-team deal with Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, a 2029 unprotected MIL 1st, and unprotected MIL swap rights in 2028 and 2030 to Blazers. Phoenix lands Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson. https://t.co/Ge0H91AiIA
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 27, 2023
The Blazers are receiving All-Star guard Jrue Holiday, a 2029 unprotected first-round pick and two first-round swaps in 2028 and 2030 from the Bucks. Deandre Ayton and Toumani Camara are also heading to Portland as part of this three-team trade. As for the Suns, they are receiving Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson from the Blazers, as well as Grayson Allen from Milwaukee.
The Blazers and general manager Joe Cronin made his stance very clear over the last few days that they intended on moving on from Lillard ahead of training camp. With just days to spare, the superstar guard now finds himself on a championship contending team alongside the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. For Portland, they enter a new era with different ways to build their roster.
Recently turning 33-years old in July, Lillard averaged 32.2 points per game during the 2022-23 season with Portland. Despite playing in only 58 games, he still ranked third in the league in points per game, as well as 11th in total points scored. His 71 points scored on February 26 against the Houston Rockets were tied for the most points by a player this past season and tied for the eighth-most all-time by a player in a single game.
After 11 years with the franchise that drafted him, Lillard now embarks on a new journey in Milwaukee in a stunning turn of events. The writing had been on the wall for Lillard's departure from Portland, as the franchise had been spiraling towards a rebuild for years.
With their star gone, the Blazers will now begin their rebuild with Anfernee Simons, Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe being their focal points in the backcourt. Having various first-round picks over the next several seasons and having cap flexibility, Portland can look to be aggressive moving forward as they build their new, young core.
Amid comments about wanting to contend for a championship and that he would not sign an extension with the team until everyone was on the same page, Giannis now has the high-level help he has been looking for. The trio of Lillard, Antetokounmpo and Middleton looks to be one of the best scoring groups in the entire league, putting the Bucks in a position to immediately contend for a spot in the 2024 NBA Finals.
The Suns made it clear this offseason that money was not going to come in the way of them pushing for a championship when they traded for All-Star guard Bradley Beal. Rounding out their depth next to Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Beal was vital, which is why the franchise decided to move on from Ayton. With the former first overall pick gone, the Suns now have a reliable, veteran big man in Nurkic, as well as key depth with Little, Johnson and Allen that can help them push for a title.