After a seemingly endless standoff between the Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard, his agent, Aaron Goodwin, and the Miami Heat, the Blazers and General Manager Joe Cronin finally found a deal that they found suitable for an NBA 75th Anniversary Team member’s services, and it wasn’t with Miami. Instead, Portland traded Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team deal with the Phoenix Suns.
That deal landed the Blazers Deandre Ayton, Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee’s 2029 unprotected first-round pick, and the rights to swap first-round selections with the Bucks in both 2028 and 2030. Portland and Cronin were able to flip Jrue Holiday to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Robert Williams III, Malcolm Brogdon, the Golden State Warriors first-round pick in 2024, and Boston’s first-round selection in 2029.
In summation, Damian Lillard — and Jusuf Nurkic, Keon Johnson, and Nassir Little who were sent to the Phoenix Suns — brought back the Blazers: Deandre Ayton, Robert Williams III, Malcolm Brogdon, three future first-round picks, and two potential first-round pick swaps.
The standoff with Miami and Lillard’s request to only be traded to the Heat made it seem as though Dame might not carry the trade value that his fellow superstars demanded in the past few years. But, in the end, Lillard netted just as large, if not larger, a return than players like Rudy Gobert and Dejounte Murray.
That being said, the most important part of the deal for the Blazers is Deandre Ayton. Aside from the 2024 pick from Golden State, the draft compensation that Portland received won’t convey until way down the line, perhaps too late to impact their current core consisting of Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, and 2023 third-overall pick Scoot Henderson.
Ayton has been anything but a sure thing since his run to the 2021 NBA Finals with the Phoenix Suns. Before the trade, he had played his way into being labeled as an overpaid malcontent who may have been holding his team back. That’s a large reason why he was essentially traded for Nurkic and a small cast of underwhelming support pieces.
Deandre Ayton 2022-23 SEASON STATS:
If Ayton can’t turn his fortunes around in Portland, the Blazers will have a hard time reconciling their decision to fade the Heat and deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.
After all, if Ayton flunks in Portland, they’ll have virtually traded away the greatest player in franchise history in return for three potentially late first-round picks, Robert Williams III, Malcolm Brogdon, and two potential pick swaps. That deal doesn’t sound nearly as gracious.
Deandre Ayton is embracing a fresh start with the Trail Blazers https://t.co/fm6loC1TNf
— WashTimes Sports (@WashTimesSports) October 6, 2023
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| Title: The Portland Trail Blazers future hinges on Deandre Ayton
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: October 10th, 2023