Grade the trade: Blazers deal Lillard to Bucks (updated with Holiday return)

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports /
2 of 3
Jrue Holiday is part of the Portland Trail Blazers trade of Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks (left); Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports /

Blazers send Lillard to Bucks, Nurkic goes to Suns, Ayton comes to Portland

Deandre Ayton has reportedly been on the Trail Blazers’ radar for months, if not longer. When rumors of Phoenix’s involvement in a Lillard trade started to trickle out, the key part of any deal involving those two teams was an Ayton-Jusuf Nurkic swap.

In a week filled with rumors, most of which turned out to be just smoke, it appears at least one was true.

From a Bucks perspective, the allure of this trade is simple: pair Lillard with Giannis and go win a championship. Oh, the pick-and-roll possibilities with those two…

To get their guy, Milwaukee traded Jrue Holiday – one of the best defensive guards in the NBA and a critical piece of the franchise’s 2021 championship team. In fact, the Bucks won their first title in 50 years the season Holiday arrived in Milwaukee.

The Bucks also sent Grayson Allen to the Suns and a first-round pick in 2029 and first-round pick swaps in 2028 and 2030 to Portland.

Phoenix sends Ayton and Toumani Camara to the Blazers in return for Nurkic, Allen, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson.

Update: Blazers trade Jrue Holiday to the Boston Celtics

It’s easier to look at this deal as a whole now that each part of the trade is complete.

Portland flipped Holiday to Boston in exchange for Robert Williams III, Malcolm Brogdon, the Golden State Warriors’ first-round pick in 2024 (top-four protected) and the Celtics’ first-round pick in 2029.

It was another waiting game to see what would happen with Brogdon – as another veteran guard, would he be rerouted the way Holiday was? Would the Lillard trade become a trilogy?

As it turns out – at least to begin the season – that won’t be the case. The 30-year-old former Rookie of the Year will be sticking around in Portland as the adult in the backcourt room with the 19-year-old Scoot Henderson, 20-year-old Shaedon Sharpe and 24-year-old Anfernee Simons.