Blazers trade Damian Lillard to Bucks in blockbuster 3-team swap

Damian Lillard is headed to the Milwaukee Bucks, the team announced Wednesday night. Lillard is part of a three-team deal also involving the Phoenix Suns that sees Bucks guard Jrue Holiday and Suns center Deandre Ayton on the move, too. Bucks receive: Damian Lillard (via Blazers) Trail Blazers receive: Deandre Ayton (via Suns) Toumani Camara (via Suns) Jrue Holiday (via Bucks) 2029 1st-round pick (via Bucks) Two first-round pick swaps with Bucks (2028, 2030) Suns receive: Grayson Allen (via Bucks) Keon Johnson (via Blazers) Nassir Little (via Blazers) Jusuf Nurkic (via Blazers) The trade was finalized night after NBA attorneys, as is always the case with trades, reviewed the terms and approved the deal. “The casuals won’t be addressed but the trailblazers fans and city of Portland that I love truly will be … and they will be addressed truthfully. Stay tuned,” Lillard wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “Excited for my next chapter!” What this means: The Bucks have strengthened their pursuit of a championship, pairing Lillard with former two-time Kia MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo as he seeks to lead Milwaukee to its second title since 2021. For the Trail Blazers, a new era begins behind their No. 2 overall pick Scoot Henderson and the former No. 1 overall pick in Ayton. For Phoenix, it ends its run with Ayton and moves on to Nurkic to man the middle as it hopes to make a title run. Allen is a valuable floor-spacer and 3-pont shooter while Little and Johnson will provide the Suns with added depth. How we got here: Lillard met with Portland multiple times this offseason, asking for the roster to be upgraded to the point where he can compete for a championship. But those efforts, evidently, have not gone to Lillard’s liking and led to him asking to be moved. His decision was revealed on the second day of NBA free agency after Portland made a huge splash on the first night by retaining Jerami Grant with a $160 million, five-year deal. Lillard spent 11 seasons with the Blazers. Over the years, he consistently reiterated his desire to stay in Portland and win a title with the team that drafted him. That plan has changed. He wanted to go to the Miami Heat and made that clear. Portland decided not to accommodate that request, and instead, it’s the Bucks who now have an incredibly strong 1-2 punch of Lillard and Antetokounmpo heading into the new season. Chris Haynes reports on the history between Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis & Lillard: The acquisition of Lillard comes after Antetokounmpo told The New York Times over the summer that he wanted to see how committed the Bucks are toward winning another championship before deciding whether to sign a long-term deal to stay in Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo’s contract runs through the 2024-25 season, with a player option for 2025-26. Lillard is owed a ransom over the next four years. He will make almost $46 million this coming season and could make as much as $216 million over the next four years if he exercises his option for the 2026-27 season. “Damian Lillard is an elite player in our league and someone we’ve long been fans of,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst said. “These opportunities are rare and hard to measure and execute. “His character, competitiveness, talent and experience complement our group and gives us the best chance to win at the very highest level as we create new memories together.” Lillard was asked on Twitter in May 2022 to pick one current player he’d want to help him reach the playoffs. He gave a one-word answer: “Giannis.” It will be a large, and possibly very worthwhile, investment because acquiring Lillard figures to make the Bucks even more of a title contender. Lillard’s resume: Lillard is coming off a season in which he averaged 32.2 points per game for the Trail Blazers. He is a seven-time All-NBA selection and was selected to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team. He has averaged at least 24 points per game in each of the last eight seasons, and his career average of 25.2 points ranks fourth among active players (with at least 375 games) behind Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid and LeBron James. Last season, Lillard became the all-time leading scorer in Blazers history, passing Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler for the mark in a Dec. 19 game in Oklahoma City. Lillard had a 71-point game this past season against Houston, becoming the seventh player in NBA history to score more than 70 points in a game. The other names on that list are Wilt Chamberlain (who did it five times), Kobe Bryant, David Thompson, David Robinson, Elgin Baylor and Donovan Mitchell. He has 17 games of at least 50 points in his career — two of them in the playoffs — and is a past winner of the J. Walker Kennedy Citizenship Award and the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award. He’s even an Olympic gold medalist. The only glaring omission on Lillard’s resume is a championship. And now he’ll seek a move to change that. “I want to express my gratitude to Damian for 11 storied years with this franchise and for his loyalty to the Portland community,” Cronin said. ”From becoming the all-time leading points scorer in franchise history to his dedicated commitment to youth across Oregon and the entire Pacific Northwest, Damian is and will remain a titan and a true trailblazer to this city.” His words: “I would say I want to be remembered for who I was, not as a player, but the principle that I stood on regardless of how successful I was, how major the failure was, the criticism, what people thought I should have did, what people think of me … no matter what was happening, I want to be remembered for who I was,” Lillard said in an interview with former teammate Evan Turner for the “Point Forward” podcast earlier this year. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Damian Lillard posts heartfelt goodbye to Rip City

Dear Rip City, I want to start off by saying this isn’t a goodbye, it’s a see you later. My words have always been from the heart when it comes to you Rip City. I consider you my home as well as many of my family members and that won’t change. I’ve built my entire adulthood here and made so many friends that I will never forget. The moments on the basketball court as great as they have been, don’t even compare to the experience I’ve had with all of you. The way you embraced me from day one gave me no choice but to reciprocate the love a thousand times and I don’t regret it one bit. I must admit that it does make me sad to see some people crossover and appear as my opposition in the wake of me asking to be traded without knowing the facts because I am truly one of you. I hope there is a day where we can come together and reminisce on the great times as we won’t have them again — at least not as they were. I was the young, new, confident, chip on my shoulder, prideful, competitive, Rip City loving, mid-major PG that you al couldn’t get enough of. Now I’m older and on my way out the door, a door that I always prayed would lead to retirement — not another team. I leave with nothing but love for the fans and this city. That will never change. I want to thank Jody Allen. Jody, the first time I met you, you had on a pair of Alexander McQueen sneakers and a vintage Blazers jacket, and I thought to myself, this is a cool woman. I knew we would be alright. I apologize for any misunderstanding this summer because you have truly been great about everything the last five years. I will be forever grateful for your support in some difficult situations away from basketball where you showed true love and compassion for my family and me. We will have our moment. Much love to you! Thank you to Neil Olshey for making me the sixth pick of the 2012 NBA Draft and allowing me the opportunity to land in such a great place for my life and career. I’d also like to thank Terry Stotts for the freedom and love he showed me during nine years with the organization. Without you, I wouldn’t have become my full self as a player. Thanks to David Vanterpool, Kaleb Canales, Jay Triano, Dale Osbourne, Nate Tibbetts, Jim Moran, John McCullough, and Kim Hughes for being the village that pushed me into the direction I needed right away as an NBA player. All my teammates of the past, you guys know who I am truly. Publicly and privately it’s the same and I take solace in that fact. I love you guys. To my young fella Anferno! LOL … He hates when I say it, but I truly believe in you man. I saw it from the jump. It’s not so much the gifts you have from GOD and pure talent but the person you are that gave me true confidence in what you could become in this league. I’m excited to see you become it. You know where you stand with me in our brotherhood and in my heart. I love you bra. To Chauncey, man I love you. I view David Vanterpool as my closest OG in the NBA along with a few others and I place you there with or without basketball. The last two years have been tough on you as they have been on me, but it has been a complete job growing my relationship with you bra. Coach Steve Hetzel, I appreciate you as a man and for challenging me to grow my game. You forever have a friend in me. Mark Tyndale, I appreciate you bro you know what it is. Roy, I appreciate how invested you are in doing what needs to be done and I appreciate you as a leader of men. Scotty Brooks, I’ll miss you. It’s been a true pleasure getting to know you. Jason and Ike, thank you for always being available last minute, at my house, anytime of the day … means a lot. I’ll miss you guys bro. Heavyn, Dr. Green — y’all my dogs and y’all better stay in that word without me! GOD don’t like ugly, LOL. To my guys Eric Hallman and Cory Lay, if I had to do your jobs, I would have quit a long time ago. I this league and many other occupations there are people that do the dirty work and behind the scenes stuff that never gets credit or even acknowledgment, but the ship would sink without you. Much love to you good brothers. Geoff Clark, bro you are one hell of a dude. I can’t even put into words the comfort you have given me just seeing you in the building every day. I love you like family and I’ll miss seeing you man. Cheri Hanson, if I’ve learned anything in 11 years with you, it’s that nobody is too big or too old to say please. I love you Miss Cheri and I thank you for being so kind and supportive of me. Beth Hancock, I thank you for being a dear friend. You’ve been so helpful and supportive of me from a young kid until now. And you haven’t aged a minute LOL … I love you BH! Jim Taylor, I’ve missed you the last few seasons but you’re one of us! I remember you telling me at my first All-Star Game when it got super busy and I was complaining that “success and failure are equally disastrous” and you were not lying. It’s a beautiful struggle. Nick West, thank you for everything man. You made everything flow and nobody knew the whole time. You’re a great guy and friend bro – I’ll be seeing you. My guy Zilla/Mr. Forcier, our time is up but the brotherhood remains. Much love. To Annie Klug, thank you for all your support with all my initiatives in the community, specifically my Respect Program that is so near and dear to my heart. It’s one thing to help with another person’s mission, but you have been invested in the program as much as I have, and I thank you. Bruce Ely, oh man – thank you for capturing every precious moment both on the court and off! You have a gift my friend. Tristan, thanks for always being ready to step in and roll. Your creativity is one of a kind. Grandpa Chico, you know what it is. I appreciate all that you have done for me and all one million things you handle. I’ll miss greeting you first every morning. RD, expect to get your normal texts from me because you’re the only guy I know that watches EVERY fight like me. Small cards to prize fights … you don’t know sh** about boxing though, LOL. To all the local media members, Casey Holdahl, Jason Quick, Sean Highkin, Danny Marang, Dwight Jaynes, Aaron Fentress, and whoever I may have missed, my bad. We’ve had our share of disagreements and heated back and forth interactions but for me, I’m a true man. I hold nothing against you. I’ve always tried to give you my real self and every opportunity to do your jobs to the best of my ability. Some of you have pissed me off on occasion but that’s part of this game. I know you guys have pressure and everyday stresses, and I wish you all well. When we’re stripped of what we all do for a living, all we have is our true selves, and I’m the kind of guy that cares for the well-being and quality of life of others. I want to clear anything negative with you because life is too short, and you just don’t know what people are going through. When sh** goes down your more human/compassionate side will beat you up when you don’t settle things. Much love to y’all … peace. As this chapter of my life ends, I look back and realize how special it was. Even in this moment I feel sad that we never accomplished what I so badly wanted to. I don’t cry much, but I know my love for you is real because I am for sure dropping some tears right now. Rip City you know my heart and where I stand because I’ve stood there for over a decade so to have to move off my square hurts my heart. As my guy Chief says, “One man don’t stop no show” and the show in Rip City must go on with or without me. I do believe a day will come where I put a Blazers uniform on again, and hopefully by then I’ll be forgiven for breaking your hearts along with my own.