Damian Lillard is leaving the Portland Trail Blazers.
After 11 seasons of service, a franchise-leading 19,376 career points and a summer of endless trade speculation, Lillard is on his way to join Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. The deed has been done. The era is over.
In the aftermath of the seismic news, Lillard took to social media to address his departure. Despite reports that Lillard’s only preferred trade destination was the Miami Heat, and speculation that he might not suit up to play elsewhere, Lillard’s reaction to the trade was positive. On X, formerly known as Twitter, the seven-time NBA All-Star gave a brief address to the Portland fans who embraced him for over a decade, promising for more later, and then looked ahead to his new future.
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— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) September 27, 2023
Excited for my next chapter! @Bucks ️
Judging by this brief initial reaction, it appears Lillard holds no bad blood about Portland sending him to the Bucks. Lillard wanted to join a championship contender. He’s talked about just wanting a puncher’s chance at a title for years. So while Milwaukee isn’t Miami, the Bucks likely give Lillard a better shot at that coveted championship. He’ll join a team that won a title just three seasons ago and play alongside a two-time MVP in Antetokounmpo and All-Star forward Khris Middleton.
From Portland’s perspective, the deal checks off a lot of boxes while avoiding a low-ball offer from Miami. The Blazers get 2018 No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, a 25-year-old, 7-foot tall center who averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds last season and matches up well with Portland’s youthful timeline; 2023 No. 52 overall pick Toumani Camara, a 6-foot-8 forward, a 2029 unprotected first-round pick and two future pick swaps; and whatever assets the front office can get on the trade market from two-time NBA All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. Holiday is 33, but he’s fresh off an All-Star season that also earned him All-Defensive First Team honors. At the very least, one would think he garners much more value on the trade market than Miami’s offensive specialist Tyler Herro.
So Dame gets his title shot with gas still left in the tank to be a main contributor, and Portland gets to kick off its rebuild with a solid boost to the foundation. The cherry on top: The deal got resolved before training camp, so this drama doesn’t have to drag into the season, where it could’ve potentially got messy.
From the looks of it, this is a deal that should help constitute a cordial break between Portland and the franchise all-time great.
Now, fans and the city of Portland will have to wait for the truthful address that Lillard promised.