The Milwaukee Bucks Have Gotten Worse In This Critical Area By Trading For Damian Lillard

The NBA world was rocked ahead of the opening of team training camps as Damian Lillard was traded from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team deal involving multiple players, picks, and swaps. Lillard got what he says he wanted, a chance to play for a contender. It’s just not the Miami Heat.

Anatomy Of A Trade

First, let’s deal with the particulars.

Lillard goes to the Bucks to play with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Blazers receive will receive Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, and Toumani Camara from the Phoenix Suns, the Bucks’ 2029 unprotected first-round draft pick, and unprotected Bucks swap rights in 2028 and 2030.

The Suns will receive Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson.

The narrative being pushed by Miami Heat fans and Lillard sympathizers is that the Blazers somehow screwed Lillard by not moving him to his preferred destination in Miami. But the Blazers were under no obligation to do so.

On the floor, the Bucks have gotten worse defensively at the point of attack. Lillard is a minus defender and has been his entire career. However he is exceptional offensively and the space he will open up for Antetokounmpo in the playoffs will be outstanding.

Bucks Title Favorites?

Las Vegas oddsmakers have made the Bucks the title favorites after the trade at +360. They are a favorite in the East, but not a prohibitive favorite. Their title hopes will largely depend on what version of Khris Middleton returns this season. He is coming off two injury-plagued seasons and he was the Bucks’ go-to scorer in the half court during their title run in 2021.

Presumably that will now be Lillard but integrating new stars is never easy, the team’s defense and depth are questionable, and they will be working in a rookie head coach in Adrian Griffin.

As for the other trade partners, the Blazers get a young big man in Ayton who most of the league is down on but is extremely talented. He’s an excellent defender and pick and roll player for their surplus of guards. Holiday doesn’t fit their youth movement but he’s an excellent guard they will likely flip to a contender into another young player and more draft capital.

The Suns’ decision to move on from Ayton suggests the team really soured on him and they’ve gotten off his contract, which will help them financially in the future. As for the acquisitions of Nurkic, Allen, Little, and Johnson, mehhh …

Nurkic is an older, more injury-prone lesser version of Ayton. Word is Nurkic will buy into his role as a rebounder, defender, passer better than Ayton. Allen can shoot, which would add even more spacing to a team with Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, and Kevin Durant. Little is young and athletic but has yet to prove he can be a player that impacts winning. Johnson is even younger and has less of a body of work to judge.

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