The Milwaukee Bucks shocked the NBA world when they traded Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, and a first round pick (and two pick swaps) as part of a three-team deal that pairs Giannis Antetokounmpo with seven-time All-Star Damian Lillard.
The trade, of course, came in the wake of numerous instances of Giannis appearing on podcasts and giving interviews in which he stated that he would not sign an extension if the Bucks did not prove to him that they were going to be as committed as he is to winning another NBA championship.
Which makes the text message he sent to Lillard after the trade was announced so exciting for Bucks fans.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Wants Damian Lillard to Help Him Bring Another NBA Championship to the Milwaukee Bucks
Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report talked with Lillard soon after the trade was announced. During the interview, Lillard revealed that he had received several text messages congratulating him on his new team. One of them was from Giannis, and it was short and to the point:
“Let’s get this f–king championship.”
As mentioned, there have been several instances this summer in which Giannis has said he will sign elsewhere if he did not think Milwaukee could compete for a title. Of course, he has been saying this for years. He said the same thing before Jon Horst made the mega-trade that brough Holiday to the Bucks in the first place. He even said the same thing weeks after Milwaukee won its first NBA Championship in 50 years.
Winning, to Giannis, is everything. It is everything to Lillard, too.
Is Damian Lillard an Upgrade Over Jrue Holiday on the Milwaukee Bucks?
On one hand, Holiday is an All-NBA First Team Defense guard that is widely considered by many to be the best defensive player in the NBA. He can guard any of the five positions and is an above average offensive point guard as well.
But on the other hand, Damian Lillard is one of the 75 greatest players of all time. While widely considered to be a below-average defender, he is one of the NBA’s best three-point shooters and overall scorers. He averaged 32.2 points and 7.3 assists per game for Portland last year, and has career averages of 25.2 points and 6.7 assists.
So, while Milwaukee does give up some flexibility on defense, they gain one of the most lethal scorers in the NBA right now. A pick-and-roll combination between Lillard and Giannis is going to be impossible for teams to stop. And in the rare instance that they do, there will be Khris Middleton wide open.
Speaking of Middleton, he goes from from the second option on offense to the third, and how many teams have a third option who is a three-time All-Star and 40-50-90 potential?
In short, the answer is “yes.” Lillard is an upgrade over Holiday. This is not to say Holiday isn’t a good player. He was an All-Star last year and is certainly an important figure in team history and a great human being.
But as Giannis said to Haynes:
“At the end of the day, Jrue will always be be my brother for life. He’s one of the best human beings I’ve been around. But we’ve got to focus on the goal to win the championship. Dame wants this. He’s hungry to win, and he’s going to push us. I’m very happy to have him on our team.”
Earlier this offseason, Holiday had expressed his desire to retire when his contract in Milwaukee ended. While he recently walked those statements back, it was probably enough for the Bucks to question his long-term commitment to winning with the franchise. And if they want to keep Giannis long-term, there can be no questions about anyone’s commitment.
Milwaukee Bucks Fans Can Welcome Damian Lillard to the City on Saturday
Fans that wish to welcome Lillard to the city of Milwaukee can do so tomorrow, Saturday September 30, at the plaza at Fiserv Forum:
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) September 29, 2023
The Bucks start training camp on Tuesday and play their first preseason game against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday October 8.