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 /
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The Portland Trail Blazers got Deandre Ayton from the Phoenix Suns in the Damian Lillard trade.
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

How did the Blazers do in acquiring Ayton from Phoenix, Holiday from Bucks?

Ayton is the centerpiece of the deal for Portland. He is a significant upgrade over Nurkic.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft is only 25 years old, so he fits in comfortably with the Trail Blazers’ youth movement. He’s also a solid fit with the team’s trio of guards, Henderson, Sharpe and Simons. The four of them will be able to grow together over the next several seasons.

Losing Lillard was a given, and trading Nurkic seemed like a good possibility, but shipping out Little is a bit of a surprise, Johnson less so. Obviously, neither of those players were deal-breakers, but Little still holds potential as a three-and-D forward if he can stay healthy. He’ll be a solid rotation piece around Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker with the Suns.

The most significant question looming over the entire deal is what happens with Holiday. While he would be awesome as a veteran leader for Henderson, Sharpe and Simons, he doesn’t fit with the the roster overhaul or goals Portland has. He certainly can’t have interest in being part of a rebuild, either.

Nabbing Ayton – a nimble, 6-foot-11, 250-pound big man as the long-term answer at center – especially considering his age and fit with the rest of the Blazers’ core – is not nothing. But until we find out what Cronin gets in exchange for Holiday, there’s no way to analyze this deal in its entirety.

Updated: Portland Trail Blazers’ complete Damian Lillard trade return

With the full deal complete – again, for now (Brogdon could potentially be traded during the season or at the trade deadline) – the Trail Blazers’ entire return in the Lillard trade consists of:

  • Deandre Ayton, Robert Williams III, Malcolm Brogdon, Toumani Camara
  • First-round picks from the Warriors in 2024 (top-4 protected), Bucks in 2029, Celtics in 2029 and potential first-round pick swaps from Milwaukee in 2028 and 2030.

So Cronin turned Lillard, Nurkic, Little and Johnson into two athletic, versatile centers for the future – one offensively gifted, the other defensively, but both excellent fits around Scoot, Sharpe and Simons; a veteran combo guard who can stay on the floor in any lineup; a lottery-ticket in Camara; three first-round picks; and two potential first-round pick swaps.

Considering the offers that had been reported prior to the actual trade, this is a home run for Cronin and the Blazers.

Final Blazers trade grade: A

Next. Blazers trade Lillard to Bucks: Instant reactions and analysis. dark