And just like that, the Damian Lillard trade saga is finally over.
BREAKING: The Portland Trail Blazers are trading guard Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, sources tell ESPN. pic.twitter.com/FRgQyDVjQG— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 27, 2023
Wednesday afternoon's move is sure to send shockwaves felt for years in the Association. Let's dive into the betting impact of yet another blockbuster NBA trade.
Fallout of Dame Lillard Leaving Portland
Lillard leaving his longtime Pacific Northwest home always seemed to be an eventuality. Although he preached loyalty to the Portland Trail Blazers franchise for years, in this era of player movement, this is the best move for the Dame Dolla's career. The Weber State University alum was never going to waste his final prime years playing for a franchise with no hope of contending for an NBA Championship.
Wojnarowski reports that the Blazers will receive a package of veteran players and picks for one of the best players in franchise history. DeAndre Ayton, Jrue Holiday, Toumani Coumara, a 2029 unprotected first-round pick, and two first-round pick swaps from Milwaukee will head to Portland as part of a three-team deal with the Phoenix Suns. Portland will surely look to offload Holiday and perhaps Ayton, too, as the Blazers fully commit to building for the future.
Milwaukee Bucks odds shifts 📈— Odds Shark (@OddsShark) September 27, 2023
To win Championship: 🏆
+700 ➡️ +400
To win the East:
+275 ➡️ +175 https://t.co/x6Mgokf5pP
Anfernee Simons is the defacto leader of the Blazers now, with Canadian guard Shaedon Sharpe and rookie Scoot Henderson rounding out the young core. Portland's odds to win the Northwest division cratered from +7500 to +15000 with the news.
|To win NBA Northwest Division||To win NBA Western Conference||To win NBA Championship|
Giannis Will Welcome Dame With Open Arms
The undoubted winner of Wednesday's news is Giannis Antetokounmpo. Any way you slice it, the Milwaukee Bucks offense has been persistently mediocre since they lifted the Larry O'Brien trophy in 2021.
Milwaukee has often relied too heavily on its superstar on the offensive end. With Khris Middleton often injured and Jrue Holiday far from an offensive savant, teams have found a way to stifle the Bucks' scoring in the playoffs without a true weapon opposite "the Greek Freak."
Now, opposing defenders will have to contend with a career 25-point-per-game scorer, the immovable object of Giannis, and the marvelous mid-range skills of Middleton, should he remain healthy.
Lillard is unquestionably one of the greatest shooters of all-time and immediately changes the entire complexion of the Bucks entire franchise. Last week, ESPN was running features on where Giannis could possibly sign once his contract runs out next summer. Now, with one Jon Horst masterstroke, the Bucks are once again the favorites to win the NBA Championship. Milwaukee has surpassed the Phoenix Suns superteam +600, vaunted Boston Celtics +500, and the defending champion Denver Nuggets +475 in one fell swoop. Bucks ownership has to be ecstatic.
|To win NBA Central Division||To win NBA Eastern Conference||To win NBA Championship|
NBA MVP Award in Play for Giannis
With Damian Lillard in tow to lessen the load, a third NBA MVP award is now very much on the table for Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis will have the most help he's ever had offensively, as Lillard is the perfect complement to his interior dominance.
Antetokounmpo now sits third in the NBA MVP odds at +550, trailing only Luka Doncic at +500 and favorite Nikola Jokic at +450 odds. Following his move to a contending franchise, Lillard himself has entered the conversation at +2200 odds to win his first Most Valuable Player award. The superstars' dynamic will be fun to watch as the NBA season gets underway in late October. We'll have a good idea of the Bucks status in the NBA hierarchy immediately, as Milwaukee hosts 2022 NBA MVP Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on October 26th.