While the Milwaukee Bucks’ blockbuster trade for Damian Lillard may have taken more than a few folks by surprise, the fact of the matter is that this was actually a long time coming. Milwaukee was one of the teams that was linked to the seven-time All-Star early on in his trade saga, and the Bucks were reportedly one of the teams Dame himself identified as his possible landing spot once his move to the Miami Heat fell through.
As it turns out, however, there was one other team on Lilalrd’s radar.
Milwaukee Bucks Had to Contend With One Other Team
According to NBA gurus Shams Charania and Sam Amick, that team was the Brooklyn Nets:
“Yet once Lillard was convinced that joining the Heat was virtually impossible, sources briefed on discussions say he became open to the prospect of playing for the Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets. The backchannel blessings commenced. Goodwin, sources briefed on the talks say, communicated Lillard’s interest to those teams as a way of paving the way for a possible deal,” Charania and Amick wrote.
This does not come as a surprise at all. When Dame first announced his intention to leave Portland, he named the Heat and the Nets as the two tames he wanted to play for. It only makes sense that Brooklyn was his second option once the move to South Beach did not materialize.
It is unclear if the Nets engaged with the Blazers before Portland struck a deal with Milwaukee. According to Shams and Amick, the Boston Celtics, the New Orleans Pelicans, the Toronto Raptors, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Chicago Bulls were all locked in “serious trade talks” with the Blazers. There was no mention of the Nets.
Dame Lands in Milwaukee
In the end, it was the Bucks who ended up winning the Damian Lillard race. It came at quite a cost for them, too. Milwaukee had to give up Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, a future first-round pick, and two future pick swaps in what turned out to be a three-team deal involving the Blazers and the Phoenix Suns.
Losing Holiday, in particular, is a tough pill to swallow, no doubt. However, Milwaukee had to give up a substantial haul in order to land Dame. They did just that, and now they’re considered one of the top contenders for the 2023-24 title.
Needless to say, it’s championship or bust for the Bucks this season — now more than ever.
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