Blazers trade Jrue Holiday to Celtics: Instant reactions, analysis

Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The Portland Trail Blazers have officially completed the Damian Lillard trade (maybe?), rerouting former Milwaukee Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday to the Boston Celtics for a package of players and future picks.

The Blazers get center Robert Williams and guard Malcolm Brogdon in return, along with the Golden State Warriors’ first-round pick in this year’s draft that’s top-4 protected and a 2029 unprotected first from the Celtics, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Reactions to Portland Trail Blazers trading Jrue Holiday to Boston Celtics

The Lillard trade is officially complete…right?

With the Holiday trade complete, Portland’s haul for trading Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks is:

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

Trail Blazers finally upgrade at center

The addition of Ayton from the Phoenix Suns as part of the Lillard trade and now Williams from the Holiday trade gives Portland two legitimate starting centers. Last season, oft-injured Jusuf Nurkic, Jrue Eubanks and at times Trendon Watford played the five for the Blazers. Nurkic was the only player on the roster taller than 6-foot-9.

Ayton brings size (6-foot-11, 250 pounds), agility, versatility on defense and a more complete offensive skill set. He’s capable of hitting mid-range jumpers, posting up smaller players and, perhaps most importantly for this Blazers team, is a talented pick-and-roll big and lob-threat.

Williams is shorter at 6-foot-9, but he makes up for that lack of height with strength, explosive athleticism, defense and energy. When healthy – admittedly a problem that has plagued Williams throughout his NBA career – Time Lord is first and foremost a rim-protector and rebounder, both of areas Portland has struggled in over the last few years.

Williams averaged 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in nearly 30 minutes per game for the Celtics during his healthiest season when he played and started all 61 games in 2021-22.

Ayton and Williams can play together if the Blazers want a big lineup with rim protection and rebounding, or one can spell the other in a staggered rotation in the frontcourt.

Both players are 25 years old and under contract for three more seasons, so it appears general manager Joe Cronin has locked down that position with two players who fit well with Scoot Henderson, Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simons.

Does Portland still have one more move to make?

Brogdon is an interesting pickup for the Blazers. Holiday was part of the Bucks trade to make salaries work, and it seems like Brogdon filled the same purpose here; but does it just present Portland with the same issue? An older guard who would take minutes and development time away from Scoot, Sharpe and Simons?

This thing may not be over, even with this Holiday trade. Stay tuned.

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