Ten days ago, Aaron Goodwin — Damian Lillard‘s agent — privately informed the Bucks and Nets that his client would be interested in joining Milwaukee or Brooklyn, sources tell Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link). Spears also writes that the Raptors were a “real contender” for Lillard, who will reportedly land with the Bucks.
Appearing on 590 The FAN, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca described the Raptors’ pursuit of Lillard as being less than full throttle.
“There was always interest, determination to try to get a deal but they wanted to see if they could, knowing them, without having to give up everything,” Grange said (Twitter link).
As for the Bucks, they discretely began inquiring about Lillard a couple weeks ago, league sources tell Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Goodwill writes that Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lillard will be under a lot of pressure to bring another title to Milwaukee after going all-in, and losing Jrue Holiday‘s defense shouldn’t be ignored.
Why would Milwaukee appeal to Lillard? In addition to being on a title contender and playing with two-time MVP and 2021 Finals MVP Antetokounmpo, Lillard will also participate in more nationally televised games (19) than any other season in his career, notes Nate Jones (via Twitter), another of Lillard’s agents.
Here’s more on the three-team blockbuster between the Bucks, Trail Blazers and Suns:
- In grading the deal, Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider link) gives both Milwaukee and Portland a B-plus, while Phoenix receives a B-minus. Pelton likes the addition of Nassir Little more for the Suns than Jusuf Nurkic, noting Nurkic’s injury history, inefficiency inside the arc and lack of mobility. Zach Harper of The Athletic has identical grades for the Suns and Blazers, but is more bullish on the Bucks’ side of the deal, giving Milwaukee an A.
- Both Bill Oram of The Oregonian (subscriber link) and Mark Medina of Sportsnaut argue that the deal is a win-win for Portland and Lillard.
- ESPN’s Bobby Marks provides his breakdown of the deal (YouTube link). As Marks notes, Lillard’s long-term deal is actually an insurance policy of sorts for the Bucks, since Holiday can become a free agent next summer if he turns down his player option.
- Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report (Twitter link) thinks it’s inevitable that Holiday — who is heading to Portland from Milwaukee as part of the deal — will eventually be traded. However, keeping him until the trade deadline isn’t a bad option, according to Highkin, as more teams might pursue the veteran guard during the season once more players become trade-eligible.
- Don’t expect the Raptors to pursue Holiday, tweets Grange. Toronto was interested in Lillard’s elite half-court offense, while Holiday isn’t on the same level at that end of the court.
- Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link) argues the Magic should pursue Holiday, while Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post believes the Knicks should trade for the All-Defensive guard, writing that head coach Tom Thibodeau would love to have him. “Thibs and Jrue,” a longtime NBA executive texted Vaccaro, “is a marriage made in basketball heaven.”
- ESPN’s panel of insiders answer big questions after the massive trade, while Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports provides three takeaways from the Suns’ perspective.