Damian Lillard reflects on landing with Milwaukee Bucks instead of Miami Heat

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Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard recently spoke about landing with Milwaukee this offseason instead of the Miami Heat.

Lillard, who requested a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers, reportedly wanted to play for Miami, but the Bucks ended up entering the picture in time to acquire the veteran.

Andscape’s Marc J. Spears spoke to Lillard about how everything unfolded.

“A couple weeks ago, probably about two weeks ago,” Lillard said after being asked when Milwaukee entered the picture for him. “Obviously, I didn’t know what was going to happen. Things were up in the air. I mentioned I wanted to go to Miami. I felt like it was a great situation for me and my agent [Aaron Goodwin] was just like, ‘Man, Milwaukee is probably the best basketball situation for you. What you think about Milwaukee?’ And I told him, ‘I love Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. I think it’s a great opportunity for me, but let’s see.’ And I left it to him.

“So, I knew weeks ago that there was a possibility that it could happen. I just didn’t know how [it happens]. So, when it happened, I was like, ‘Man, it actually came back.’”

The Bucks gave up a lot to get Lillard, including All-Star guard Jrue Holiday, in a three-team deal with the Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns. The Blazers already flipped Holiday to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Williams III and draft picks.

Now, Lillard gets to team up with Antetokounmpo, who is undoubtedly one of the best players in the NBA. A two-time MVP, Antetokounmpo has won a title with the Bucks, and it’s possible he and Lillard will now win one together.

A seven-time All-NBA selection, Lillard is still one of the best guards in the NBA. He averaged 32.2 points and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc last season.

The Heat certainly didn’t want to miss out on Lillard at all, but it may be even worse that he ended up with another contender in the Eastern Conference. It’s possible Miami will have to go through Lillard in Milwaukee and Holiday in Boston to make the NBA Finals this season.

The Heat would have been a good basketball situation for Lillard as well, as the team has made the NBA Finals in two of the last four seasons, but it appears that the Bucks had a better offer for Portland to take.

As the Blazers enter a rebuilding phase, the young players and draft capital they’ve added in their recent deals will likely pay dividends in the future.

It will be interesting to see if the Bucks’ decision to trade for the star guard pays off in the 2023-24 season.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.