After months of speculation, the Damian Lillard sweepstakes are finally over. The Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns have agreed to a seismic three-team trade with the headline being Lillard to Milwaukee. Check out below for Damian Lillard trade details and trade grades for all franchises involved along with updated futures and championship odds for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Damian Lillard Trade Details
Milwaukee Bucks receives:
- Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers receives:
- Jrue Holiday
- Deandre Ayton
- Toumani Camara
- 2029 Bucks 1st unprotected
- 2028 Bucks 1st round swap
- 2030 Bucks 1st round swap
Phoenix Suns receives:
- Jusuf Nurkic
- Nassir Little
- Grayson Allen
- Keon Johnson
Damian Lillard Trade Grades
Milwaukee Bucks Trade Grade: A+
Giannis Antetokounmpo is arguably the most unstoppable paint threat in the NBA. Nearly half of his shots came within three feet of the basket last season, and he had an impossible 79.1 FG% on those attempts. There’s nothing opponents can do when Antetokounmpo gets downhill, especially in transition. On the other hand, Lillard boasts limitless range and remains the second best three-point shooter in the league outside of Steph Curry. These two will stretch defenses to the highest degree, and their pick-and-roll partnership should topple playoff defenses. Milwaukee is now the only team to possess two players who averaged at least thirty points last season, and they mesh perfectly. Meanwhile, defenses must still consider Khris Middleton’s self-creation and Brook Lopez’s catch-and-shoot prowess too.
Exchanging Jrue Holiday’s perimeter defense for Lillard’s is a massive downgrade, but Antetokounmpo and Lopez’s rim protection help lessen this blow. Plus, Holiday’s horrific playoff shooting has haunted Milwaukee since he arrived. Holiday has never cleared a 50 true shooting percentage in the playoffs with Milwaukee. For context, Holiday’s best playoff run with Milwaukee (49.1 TS%) would have ranked second to last in the NBA among qualified players last season. Enter Lillard, who ranked sixth in True Shooting Points Added last year and is efficiency itself.
Overall, Milwaukee considerably increased their championship equity in this trade. Depth is definitely a concern, but the Bucks have the premier pieces to win another ring. Losing draft capital always stings; however, they have to go all-in now, especially with Antetokounmpo a flight risk. Take a bow Jon Horst.
Portland Trail Blazers Trade Grade: A+
With Scoot Henderson, Anfernee Simons, and Shaedon Sharpe on the roster, Portland’s perimeter future is extremely bright. However, their rebuild completely lacks frontcourt potential, so acquiring Deandre Ayton immediately provides a massive boost. The former first overall pick certainly has his flaws, but he’s a talented scorer and rebounder that can thrive in the pick and roll. If Ayton improves his rim protection and slightly extends his range, then the Blazers assuredly have their center of the future.
Portland will now flip veteran Jrue Holiday for even more assets. It’s likely that they ship Holiday to Miami in a three team trade with perhaps Utah acquiring Tyler Herro. Snagging Nikola Jovic should be priority one for Portland. Wherever Holiday winds up, the Blazers are guaranteed to add further draft capital and youth.
Finally, Milwaukee’s picks are tantalizing. When the 2028 draft hits, Giannis (33-years-old), Lillard (37), Middleton (36), and Lopez (40) will all be off the team or well past their primes. On the other hand, Portland’s core will be near peak form. The 2029 unprotected first, 2028 swap and 2030 swap could all yield high impact players.
Overall, the Blazers navigated a tough situation and came away with an excellent package that fits their core and direction. Congratulations to Joe Cronin for not feeling pressured into the Miami Heat package and taking his time to find the best deal for his team.
Phoenix Suns Trade Grade: B-
Phoenix needs an elite defensive center that can hold up well against the titans of the West. Ayton didn’t fit that description, so trading him makes complete sense. However, Jusuf Nurkic hasn’t excelled in a few seasons, and he’s struggled mightily to stay healthy recently. The last time Nurkic played at least 60 games was the 2018-19 season, where he averaged 1.4 blocks and one steal. Injuries have sapped Nurkic’s mobility, so he no longer can defend at a high level. His offensive range adds a new dimension to the offense, but Phoenix downgraded defensively even though that area was their need.
Sharpshooter Grayson Allen (39.9 3PT%) and forward Nassir Little do provide quality playoff depth though. The Suns were haunted by missed open three-point attempts that Booker and Durant created, and they couldn’t defend wings at a high level. Therefore, Allen and Little fill areas of need here.
Overall, Phoenix’s short bench receives an injection of life here, which slightly boosts their championship equity. Nurkic’s offensive range also adds a new wrinkle to the starting lineup, but his injury history and defensive woes are worrisome. It’s definitely a gamble for Phoenix.
Miami Heat Trade Grade: F
The Heat wanted to play hard ball and not unload the asset chest, so the Blazers subsequently moved on. A trio of Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, and Bam Adebayo would have positioned Miami to have a decent chance of winning a championship. Now, their rival Milwaukee upgraded significantly, and the Heat are left scrambling to pursue Jrue Holiday. This news should have been Lillard to Miami, but the Heat bungled negotiations and will subsequently suffer the consequences.