Before the Trail Blazers traded Damian Lillard to the Bucks on Wednesday, Giannis Antetokounmpo already knew the star player he wanted to play with ahead of the 2023-24 NBA season.
Antetokounmpo seemingly spoke Wednesday’s bombshell trade into existence a few months ago at a Fresno, Calif., barbershop, according to Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes. The two-time NBA MVP stated if there was one player he could play alongside in Milwaukee, it would be Lillard.
In a Fresno barbershop called Phase II a few months ago, Giannis Antetokounmpo was asked of the one player he would like to play with. His response was Damian Lillard.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) September 27, 2023
Wednesday’s news comes after Antetokounmpo’s future and loyalty to the Bucks has been in question. Nearly two weeks ago, the seven-time All-Star appeared on the 48 minutes podcast and shared that he saw himself as a “Milwaukee Buck” so long as the franchise demonstrated a commitment to winning.
“As long as we play and we approach the game every single day the right way and we all sacrifice for the common goal, I can see myself being a Milwaukee Buck for the rest of my career,” Antetokounmpo said on the podcast. “But the moment I feel people are not as committed as I am to get that golden thing [NBA title] in the back, I am not.
"I want to win. I have to do whatever it takes for me to win and if there’s a better situation for me to win the Larry O’Brien [Trophy], I have to take that better situation.”
It appears that Milwaukee listened to its star. Lillard is part of a three-team deal in which the Blazers will receive Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara from the Suns and Jrue Holliday, a 2029 first rounder and picks swaps in ‘28 and ’30 with the Bucks.
Lillard goes Milwaukee as part of a 3-team deal with Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, a 2029 unprotected MIL 1st, and unprotected MIL swap rights in 2028 and 2030 to Blazers. Phoenix lands Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson. https://t.co/Ge0H91AiIA— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 27, 2023
The Suns will receive Jusuf Nurkic, Keon Johnson and Nassir Little from the Trail Blazers and Grayson Allen from the Bucks.