The NBA world was stunned on Wednesday when the Portland Trail Blazers traded their franchise star Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team deal that also involved the Phoenix Suns. The trade sent shockwaves across the league and social media, as fans reacted to the surprising move that ended Lillard’s 11-year tenure with the Blazers.
Lillard, who had requested a trade from Portland in July, had reportedly named the Miami Heat as his preferred destination. However, the Blazers decided not to honor his wish and instead sent him to a former NBA champion, where he will join forces with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The trade package that the Blazers received in return included Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Tounami Camara, a 2029 unprotected Milwaukee first-round pick, and unprotected Milwaukee swap rights in 2028 and 2030. In addition Phoenix received Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little, and Keon Johnson.
Some might say that Lillard was overvalued by the Bucks, while others might say they got a bargain. Really only time will tell.
Did Trail Blazers Betray Damian Lillard?
Many fans on social media felt that the Blazers betrayed Lillard by trading him to a team that he did not want to play for. Some frustrated fans feel that they showed no loyalty or respect to a player who had given his all to the franchise for over a decade.
Lillard, who was drafted by Portland with the sixth overall pick in 2012, had led the Blazers to eight consecutive playoff appearances, including a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2019. He had also established himself as one of the best clutch performers and three-point shooters in NBA history, earning seven All-Star selections and seven All-NBA honors. He was recently named to the NBA’s 75th anniversary team.
Fans pointed out that Lillard had waited patiently for the Blazers to build a championship contender around him, but the team had failed to do so despite making several roster changes over the years. They argued that Lillard deserved better than being traded to a destination that’s cold most of the year.
For over 10 years Lillard stayed a silent and never requested a trade, should that have guaranteed him a chance to choose his own destination?
In his reaction to the Blazer Bucks trade, Stephen A. Smith seemed to insinuate that he understands the Blazers made a business decision, but also can see how Lillard might feel betrayed.
Did Bucks Betray Jrue Holiday?
Some fans also expressed sympathy for Holiday, who was caught in the crossfire of the trade. Holiday, who had joined the Bucks in 2020, and helped them win their first title in 50 years in 2021. He once said that he wanted to retire with Milwaukee.
However, that’s all a thing of the past as he was traded to Portland, leaving behind his teammates and fans who had embraced him as a key part of their success.
Holiday, who is expected to make at least $34.9 million this season and has a $37.4 million player option for next season, could be on the move again before the trade deadline if the Blazers decide to flip him to another contender.
How the Bucks and Blazers Alleged Betrayal Shakes Up the NBA
The trade has major implications for the NBA landscape, as it creates a new powerhouse in Milwaukee and signals a rebuild in Portland. The Bucks, who already had one of the best duos in Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, now have another elite scorer and playmaker in Lillard, who averaged a career-high 32.2 points and 7.3 assists last season.
The Bucks are widely considered as the favorites to win the title next season, and could challenge for multiple championships in the years to come. The question is will Lillard mentally lock in 100% knowing that he didn’t want to be in Milwaukee? Even if he does, it still wouldn’t be surprising if a team like the Celtics beat them in a 7 game series.