The Milwaukee Bucks have established themselves as one of the favorites to win the 2024 NBA title as they emerged as the surprise winner of the three-month long Damian Lillard sweepstakes.
The Bucks may not be the only team whose championship odds will improve as a result of this trade though.
Milwaukee sent two-time NBA All-Star Jrue Holiday, their starting point guard over the past three seasons including their 2021 NBA championship run, to Portland in exchange for Lillard. The Trail Blazers are expected to fully commit to a rebuild following Lillard’s departure and the 33-year-old Holiday is unlikely to figure in their plans for the future.
Having a player of Holiday’s caliber and skillset on the floor will only help a team win games which is the exact opposite of what Portland wants to do for the time being. Furthermore, Holiday also plays the same point guard as Scoot Henderson whom they just drafted third overall in this year’s NBA Draft.
It has been reported that Portland is already engaged in trade talks to send away the five-time All-NBA Defense guard and contenders around the league are all expected to bid for the 6’3 guard’s services.
One team that has been floated as a potential Holiday destination is the team that was said to be Lillard’s preferred landing spot, the Miami Heat. The Heat are in dire need of a point guard following Gabe Vincent’s offseason departure and with Kyle Lowry already 37 years old.
Portland was clearly not enticed by Miami’s offer for Lillard, but now that the player involved is Holiday and not their longtime franchise icon, they may be more willing to take a gamble on some of the Heat’s younger players.
If the Heat can pull this off, Holiday, Jimmy Butler, and Bam Adebayo would form what is arguably the best defensive trio in the league and put the team in a position to compete yet again for a spot in the NBA Finals.
Another Eastern Conference franchise that could make a run at Holiday is the Philadelphia 76ers who still have a disgruntled James Harden on their roster. Swapping in Holiday for the 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player is a classic trade-off between defense and offense that addresses a dire need for Philadelphia.
Tyrese Maxey would be the biggest beneficiary for the Sixers in this theoretical deal as he is likely to inherit Harden’s touches on the offensive end of the floor. A backcourt pairing of Maxey and Holiday is promising and should be enough to appease reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid for at least one more season.
Among Western Conference teams, the Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans both have a treasure chest of first round picks that are especially useful for the now-rebuilding Trail Blazers. The Clippers and the Pelicans, whom Holiday suited up for from 2013 to 2020, are currently thin at the guard spots. These two teams may just be one solid guard away from becoming legitimate title contenders and Holiday is more than qualified to fill this need.
With Lillard–and his new teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo–off the trade rumor mill for the time being, Holiday is now the hottest trade commodity in the NBA. It would not come as a surprise if he never even suits up for Portland and has a new home before the end of the upcoming weekend.
A two-way player of Holiday’s caliber is hard to come by and whatever team winds up acquiring will instantly join the Bucks as one of the offseason’s biggest winners and a formidable challenger for the 2024 NBA championship.