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'Dame Time' in Milwaukee as NBA Blazers trade Lillard to Bucks

Damian Lillard averaged a career-high 32.2 points and 7.3 assists. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES – Damian Lillard is headed to the Milwaukee Bucks, where he will team with two-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo after a blockbuster trade from Portland.

ESPN was among multiple media outlets reporting the three-team trade Wednesday, less than a month before the start of the season.

Lillard, a seven-time All-Star and the 2013 Rookie of the Year, confirmed the move on the X social media platform.

“The casuals won’t be addressed but the trailblazers fans and city of Portland that I love truly will be... and they will be addressed truthfully. Stay tuned.

“Excited for my next chapter! @Bucks,” Lillard wrote.

ESPN and The Athletic reported that Lillard, who has spent all 11 of his NBA campaigns in Portland but requested a trade in July, was headed to Milwaukee in a three-team trade deal that also included the Phoenix Suns.

Portland will receive All-Star point-guard Jrue Holiday and draft picks from the Bucks. The Trail Blazers also land the Suns’ Deandre Ayton and Toumani Camara, while the Suns get Grayson Allen from the Bucks and Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson from Portland.

Lillard averaged a career-high 32.2 points and 7.3 assists and matched a career-best by shooting 46.3 per cent over 58 games last season.

However, Portland finished 33-49 and missed the play-offs for the second season in a row.

His move to Milwaukee goes a long way to satisfying Antetokounmpo’s recent call to the Bucks to do everything they can to maintain their status as a top Eastern Conference contender.

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to the NBA title in 2021. They had the best record in the league last season at 58-24 but were stunned in the first round of the play-offs by the Miami Heat – the team who was reportedly Lillard’s preferred trade destination.

Antetokounmpo upped the pressure on Milwaukee management last month when he indicated he would not sign a contract extension until he was convinced the team was committed to maintaining a championship-calibre team.

“I would not be the best version of myself if I don’t know that everybody’s on the same page, everybody’s going for a championship, everybody’s going to sacrifice time away from their family like I do,” he told the New York Times. “And if I don’t feel that, I’m not signing.”

This coming season, the Trail Blazers visit the Bucks on November 26 and the Bucks play in Portland on January 31.

In Milwaukee, Lillard will reunite with Terry Stotts, the former Blazers head coach who joined the Bucks coaching staff in June.

Stotts is an assistant to Adrian Griffin, who was appointed head coach after Mike Budenholzer was sacked in the wake of the team’s abrupt playoff exit. AFP