By Eurohoops team / firstname.lastname@example.org
The blockbuster trade revolving around Damian Lillard shook the NBA world. The seven-time All-Star guard moved to the Milwaukee Bucks to form a formidable duo with Giannis Antetokounmpo in the East.
After a summer of speculations, Trail Blazers settled on a three-team trade involving Milwaukee and the Phoenix Suns, which resulted in Jrue Holiday, DeAndre Ayton, and Toumani Camara coming to Portland. Additionally, they acquired a 2029 first-round pick via the Bucks, along with two first-round pick swaps with the Bucks (2028, 2030).
Bleacher Report delved into everything that happened during the summer between Lillard and the Trail Blazers. They also gathered the first impressions of Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who talked about losing Jrue Holiday and his excitement to play with Dame.
Lillard requested a trade early in the summer, with the Miami Heat being his preferred destination, but the Portland Trail Blazers reportedly felt pressured. This eventually led to a division between the player’s camp and the Oregon team.
As stated in the article, the Portland organization told Lillard to sit out the last ten games of the previous season so the franchise could improve their lottery odds and secure the highest possible draft pick, which they would then trade for a proven veteran. Lillard reluctantly accepted, citing a calf injury. The Trail Blazers ultimately chose Scoot Henderson as the No. 3 pick, and on July 1, the 33-year-old point guard demanded a trade, preferably with Miami.
After everything, Portland refused to engage in trade talks with the Heat and even severed all communication with Lillard and Aaron Goodwin early in September.
“How this summer played out behind the scenes definitely left a sour taste in my mouth. But it doesn’t change the amazing experiences I’ve had with the Trail Blazers and this city. I’ll always cherish this place. This is my home. I’ll always live here regardless,” Lillard told B/R.
Lillard even tought about returning if the move to the Florida doesn’t materialize, but Portland rejected that option. There was no coming back. The 12 years NBA veteran was reportedly shocked. He even showed up at the team’s fascilities, but GM Joe Cronin wasn’t talking to him.
“I went into the facility because I was still on the roster and usually that time of the year is when team activities start to pick up as a group. I wasn’t confident I would be moved so I showed up to be in the mix. I didn’t go there to cause any problems,” Lillard continued. “That’s not my character. If they felt that way, it wasn’t my intent. I was just trying to get acclimated and everyone was happy to see me. Every single person except Joe. He never spoke to me. And when I noticed that, I made up in my mind that I’m not going out my way to speak to him.”
As time passed by, even the NBA had to get involved because of the bad relations between the player and the Trail Blazers, scheduling a Zoom meeting with the League’s officials, and Cronin eventually started communicating with Goodwin. Soon, things started to move behind the scenes and Lillard surprisingly ended up in Milwaukee.
The Bucks looked for players to add to their championship chances and got themselves a star, but at what cost? The star of the team, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is excited to play alongside Lillard but is disappointed that Jrue Holiday was the one that had to leave.
“Jrue is my f–king brother for life. I love his family. I love him. I appreciate him. He blessed me with a f–king championship. He’s the one who made that huge steal in Game 5 of the Finals. I went to battle with him multiple times. F–k basketball. F–k the media sh*t. This guy is my brother for life, and it’s always going to be like that. He’s going to thrive wherever he ends up,” Antetokounmpo said to B/R.
While Holiday’s future remains uncertain, with reports saying the Trail Blazers might be looking to trade him, Giannis and Lillard are sure to be a force to reckon with in the East and the whole NBA.
“Now at the same time, I’m excited to have Dame. He gives us a chance to win a championship. I’m excited to play with the caliber of player that he is. He can score the ball in his sleep and shoot the lights out. It’s a bittersweet day for the city of Milwaukee. You get Dame, who is a great player, but you lose a great guy. Jrue took us to the promised land. I’m 10 years in now. I know it’s a business. At the end of the day, Jrue will always be my brother for life. He’s one of the best human beings I’ve been around. But we’ve got to focus on the goal to win the championship. Dame wants this. He’s hungry to win, and he’s going to push us. I’m very happy to have him on our team.”
When the deal was announced, one of the first text messages Lillard received was from Antetokounmpo: “Let’s get this f–king championship“.