The ground must still be shaking following the colossal three-team trade in the NBA that got Giannis Antetokounmpo a shiny new future Hall of Famer teammate in the form of Damian Lillard. In the few weeks before the trade, Antetokounmpo sent some feelers that if the Bucks wanted him to think about signing an extension with them, they would have to do a better job surrounding him with better talent. Lillard does seem to be a great answer for that, as Antetokounmpo gets an all-time Top 75 player to run alongside him, beginning in the coming season.
However, landing Lillard, of course, came at a big cost for Milwaukee. Forget about Grayson Allen and the future first-round picks the Bucks coughed up in the deal. It’s the loss of two-way guard Jrue Holiday that, for better or worse, impacts Milwaukee the most. Lillard is definitely a great return, and Antetokounmpo can’t honestly say he’s not happy about it. At the same time, it must also sting for him to see Holiday go. The Bucks’ front office knew what Holiday meant to Antetokounmpo, which was also apparently why Milwaukee did not even bother to ask the Greek Freak to weigh on the potential trade, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (h/t RealGM).
“Directly, he literally played no role,” said Adrian Wojnarowski. “In fact, Jon Horst did not bring this trade idea or sign off on it to Giannis Antetokounmpo because Jrue Holiday was involved. And the relationship there and the reverence that this organization and these players have for Holiday. He did not want to put that to Giannis Antetokounmpo and have him have that on his conscious necessarily that he might sign off or not sign off on it.”
On paper, the Bucks got scarier. Lillard opens up so many possibilities for the Bucks’ offense. He is not the defender that Holiday is, but Lillard can hide his defensive shortcomings behind Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez. Plus, he can always be counted upon to make up for points he gave up on defense with buckets he would generate on the other end of the floor.
Still, Holiday helped the Bucks win the title in 2021, less than a year after he arrived in Milwaukee via a trade. Antetokounmpo will never ever forget about the Holiday’s role in that championship run. The acquisition of Lillard will only be considered a 100% success for the Bucks if they win a title with him.