Simply as all of us anticipated, Damian Lillard has been traded to an Jap Convention contender – an already muscular rival for the Celtics that juiced their roster considerably with a blockbuster transfer on Wednesday afternoon.
What none of us anticipated – with the doable exception of TNT’s Chris Haynes, who seemed to trace he had an inkling – is that Lillard’s new dwelling will probably be Milwaukee as a substitute of Miami. Lillard made it repeatedly and abundantly clear that he wished to play for the Warmth – a lot in order that the NBA threatened self-discipline this summer time if he didn’t knock it off.
In doing so, Lillard might need made positive he by no means obtained his want. The Blazers had been understandably aggravated that their long-time famous person decimated his personal commerce worth, whereas the Warmth might have been lulled right into a false sense of safety insisting that they wouldn’t commerce an awesome package deal. Lillard might need solely wished a commerce to the Warmth, however regardless of his protests, the Blazers discovered one of many only a few groups that may moderately curiosity him.
There’s lots to think about right here throughout the board, however let’s follow a Celtics-centric view. Listed below are 5 instantaneous takeaways from the beautiful deal:
1. Lillard to the Warmth would have been a daunting proposition for the Celtics. The Warmth beat them final yr behind what proved to be unsustainable 3-point capturing by Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin. Vincent is a profession 33.9 % 3-point shooter who hit an unsustainable 51.6 % of his triples within the Jap Convention Finals earlier than crashing again right down to 33.3 % in Miami’s Finals loss to the Nuggets. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are glorious gamers, and the Warmth’s protection was puzzling for the Celtics, however the haymaker that set them up for a knockout blow was the outlier 3-point capturing.
Former Celtics coach suggests how Boston can profit from Damian Lillard commerce
Lillard’s 3-point capturing, then again, is about as sustainable as 3-point capturing will get. He made 244 in simply 58 video games final yr, and if he repeats that quantity this season, he’ll transfer into fourth all-time behind Steph Curry, James Harden and Ray Allen. If Curry didn’t exist, a case may very well be made that Lillard – together with his skill to shoot off the dribble from Hail Mary yardage behind the 3-point line – is the best 3-point shooter of all time. That will have been a devastating addition to a core of Butler and Adebayo, who confirmed simply how far dependable 3-point capturing might carry them final season. As an alternative, the Celtics can sit up for going through an growing older Warmth core minus Vincent with (presumably disgruntled) defensive legal responsibility Tyler Herro wholesome as soon as once more.
2. Nonetheless, one contender’s loss is one other’s achieve. Jrue Vacation is a really good participant, however the Bucks gave up a package deal that on its face seems straight spiteful to the Warmth – Vacation, Grayson Allen, an unprotected choose in 2029 and unprotected choose swaps in 2028 and 2030. The Bucks buried a nasty little time capsule for themselves on the finish of the last decade, however from our vantage level right here in 2023, that draft capital is only a blip. They nonetheless have Giannis Antetokounmpo. They nonetheless have Khris Middleton. They nonetheless have each Lopez brothers. They nonetheless have Pat Connaughton and Bobby Portis.
It’s unclear who will slot into the beginning lineup – each Allen and Vacation began for the Bucks final yr – however including Lillard to that blend will stress each opponent’s protection enormously. Packing the paint towards Antetokounmpo proved efficient, particularly for the Celtics with Grant Williams and Al Horford, however Horford turned 37 in June and Williams signed with the Mavericks.
Even with out a flooring spacer like Lillard, Antetokounmpo promised to be a better problem for the Celtics this yr. Now the Bucks have a further All-NBA-caliber option to make opponents pay. How do you cope with an Antetokounmpo/Lillard pick-and-roll, with Antetokounmpo galloping down the lane and Lillard eyeing the rim from 40 toes away as he curls off the display? Our greatest needs to Joe Mazzulla.
3. Going from Vacation to Lillard is an improve, in fact, however it’s a vital defensive downgrade. The Celtics have traditionally been capable of finding cracks within the Bucks’ armor, they usually averaged 134 factors in three video games final season. The Bucks are going to attain lots – and shedding Marcus Good this offseason should sting the Celtics a bit in gentle of Wednesday’s information – nevertheless it’s unclear how a lot resistance the Bucks will put up defensively towards the Celtics.
The addition of Porzingis will probably be fascinating total, in fact, however particularly on this matchup. He doesn’t present the girth and positioning of Williams, and it’s unclear how a lot Antetokounmpo realistically even notices rim safety, however Porzingis can house the ground a number of toes behind the 3-point line himself, and he would possibly make it troublesome for Brook Lopez to remain on the ground. In the meantime, the Bucks nonetheless have nobody who can cope with Jayson Tatum, and fewer real looking choices towards Jaylen Brown.
Matching up towards Antetokounmpo is a bruising proposition, however Celtics-Bucks video games is perhaps a shootout this yr.
4. The Blazers are anticipated to commerce Jrue Vacation, which is somewhat fascinating from a Celtics perspective on condition that Malcolm Brogdon is reportedly lower than happy with the offseason’s drama, however a Brogdon-Vacation swap would probably must contain one among Horford or Robert Williams to make salaries work. Given the potential fragility of the Celtics’ frontcourt, the guess right here is that they are going to go for big-man depth over a transfer for Vacation.
5. Lastly, let’s take a minute to admire and recognize the pure drama right here on the finish of the Damian Lillard saga. The Bucks improved their roster, acquiesced to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s demand to usher in extra star expertise (thereby giving him extra causes to signal an extension), and caught a finger within the eye of the crew that eradicated them from the playoffs final yr in catastrophically embarrassing trend. In the meantime, not solely did the Bucks yank the Lillard rug out from below the Warmth, in addition they made it considerably much less probably that their very own flight danger – Antetokounmpo – will probably be out there inside any affordable window for the Warmth.
The Celtics have their work lower out for them in any matchup towards the Bucks, however followers nonetheless upset by final yr’s Jap Convention Finals debacle can indulge in schadenfreude at Miami’s expense. Wednesday was not basketball day for South Seaside.
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