In a stunning turn of events, Damian Lillard, a stalwart of the Portland Trail Blazers, has shaken up the NBA landscape just days before training camps and media days were set to kick off. Lillard, who had spent his entire career with the Trail Blazers and had vowed not to leave until he secured a championship ring for the city, made an unexpected move that caught the basketball world by surprise.
Lillard had been vocal in recent months about his desire to be traded to the Miami Heat, seemingly on the brink of making it happen. However, a twist in the tale emerged when the Milwaukee Bucks entered the fray, parting ways with defensive specialist and champion guard Jrue Holiday, alongside Grayson Allen, to acquire Lillard. The Phoenix Suns also became part of this blockbuster deal, sending DeAndre Ayton to the Blazers in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic and added depth.
Despite the Los Angeles Lakers having a successful offseason and being considered favorites for the 2024 championship, the Bucks’ acquisition of Lillard has sent shockwaves through the league. In his 35 career games against the Lakers, Lillard has consistently posed a threat, averaging 28 points and seven assists.
While the Lakers have seen glimpses of defensive potential in Austin Reaves, their focus is now on utilizing him more as a ball-handler. Both D’Angelo Russell and Gabe Vincent are not renowned for their defensive prowess, leading to rumors swirling about the Lakers potentially targeting Jrue Holiday. It is highly likely that the Trail Blazers will look to trade Holiday elsewhere in exchange for young talent and draft picks. Insider Bill Simmons speculates that Holiday might remain available for trade in the coming months, with the Lakers possibly entering the mix thanks to Russell’s contract. The question remains whether the Lakers will make a serious bid for the two-time All-Star if he becomes available.
“The Lakers have to be taken seriously too but they can’t do anything until December,” said Simmons. “They basically re-signed Russell and they can trade him later down the road but there could be a situation where Portland doesn’t like initial offers and they say they’ll just wait until after the season starts.”
(Via Off The Pike Podcast)
The NBA landscape has been jolted, and the repercussions of Damian Lillard’s move will undoubtedly be felt throughout the league. As the 2024 season approaches, basketball enthusiasts eagerly await to see how this trade alters the competitive balance and if the Los Angeles Lakers decide to pursue Jrue Holiday to strengthen their roster.