US basketball

Bucks favored to win title after deal for Damian Lillard

Reuters

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Bucks favored to win title after deal for Damian Lillard

STANDOUT. Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard dribbles the ball down the court in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Alonzo Adams/USA Today Sports/Reuters

The Milwaukee Bucks acquire seven-time All-Star guard Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers as part of a three-team trade

The Milwaukee Bucks’ acquisition of Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard in a trade also involving the Phoenix Suns served to shake up the NBA futures betting landscape.

Running third or fourth among teams with the best chance to win the 2023-2024 championship, the Bucks moved to the top of the list at most sportsbooks.

The Bucks are acquiring seven-time All-Star guard Lillard from the Trail Blazers as part of a three-team trade, multiple media outlets reported Wednesday, September 27.

The Trail Blazers are picking up guard Jrue Holiday, center Deandre Ayton, rookie forward Toumani Camara, Milwaukee’s unprotected first-round pick in 2029, and swapped rights with the Bucks on first-round picks in 2028 and 2030.

The Phoenix Suns, in turn, will acquire center Jusuf Nurkic, guard Grayson Allen, small forward Nassir Little and guard Keon Johnson.

Lillard, 33, has played his entire 11-year career with Portland, which selected him with the sixth overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft. Now, Lillard will join forces with two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee.

“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,” Lillard wrote on Twitter. “Excited for my next chapter!”

Lillard won’t have long to wait to face his former team. The Trail Blazers visit Milwaukee on November 26, and the teams will reconvene in Portland on January 31.

Lillard averaged a franchise-record 32.2 points per game in 2022-2023, the third-highest clip in the league, but the Trail Blazers finished 33-49 and missed the playoffs for the second straight season.

Holiday on the move

Named one of the NBA’s 75 greatest players of all-time in 2021, Lillard won Rookie of the Year honors in 2012-2013 and has made All-NBA teams seven times. He is Portland’s career leader in points (19,376) and 3-point field goals (2,387).

While Lillard is on his way to Milwaukee, multiple media outlets reported the Trail Blazers are expected to immediately begin trade talks to move Holiday to a contending team. Portland reportedly is committed to its young group of guards.

Holiday has a $36.8 million cap hit in the final guaranteed season of a four-year, $134,997,333 contract with a player option for 2024-2025.

The 33-year-old Holiday averaged 19.3 points, 7.4 assists and a career-best 5.1 rebounds in 67 games (65 starts) last season with the Bucks.

Ayton, 25, contributed 18.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in 67 games (all starts) last season with the Suns. He was selected by Phoenix with the top overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft.

Camara, 23, was selected by Portland in the second round of the 2023 NBA Draft out of Dayton.

Nurkic, 29, chipped in 13.3 points and 9.1 rebounds in 52 games (all starts) in 2022-2023 with the Trail Blazers.

Allen, 27, averaged 10.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and a career-best 2.3 assists in 72 games (70 starts) last season with the Bucks.

Little, 23, contributed 6.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 54 games (four starts) in 2022-2023 with Portland.

Johnson, 21, chipped in 4.7 points and 1.1 rebounds in 40 games off the bench last season with the Trail Blazers.

Nuggets second

BetMGM, which had the Bucks tied for third at +650 with the Suns prior to the trade, moved Milwaukee to +400 Wednesday afternoon. The defending champion Denver Nuggets are now second at +475 with the Boston Celtics third at +500.

Phoenix, at +650 before the trade, remained at that number when the new odds were released. Following the Suns were the Lakers (+1200) and the Golden State Warriors (+1400).

DraftKings moved the Bucks from +850 to +400 favorites with the Nuggets (+475), Celtics (+500) and Suns (+650) next. Later Wednesday afternoon, the Bucks moved to +390 at DraftKings.

At PointsBet, the Bucks are at the top with +400 odds. The Suns remained at +700 while Portland moved from +15000 to +20000.

The Miami Heat, who had been strongly in contention to acquire Lillard, fell from +1000 to +3000 at BetMGM and +2800 at DraftKings. – Rappler.com

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