Lillard, who officially requested his trade out of Portland and was in a bit of a contentious spot with the organization this summer, will now play for just his second team since he entered the league in 2012.
RipCity Forever ❤️… Dame Time has run out pic.twitter.com/Rnm8oT5qF7
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) September 28, 2023
“I want to start off by saying this isn’t a goodbye, it’s a see you later,” Lillard wrote. “My words have always been from the heart when it comes to you Rip City. I consider you my home as well as many of my family members and that won’t change. I’ve built my entire adulthood here and made so many friends that I will never forget. The moments on the basketball court as great as they have been don’t even compare to the experience I’ve had with all of you. The way you embraced me from day one gave me no choice but to reciprocate the love a thousand times and I don’t regret it one bit.”
Lillard was traded to the Bucks on Wednesday as part of a three-team deal with the Phoenix Suns. The Suns received Jusuf Nurkić, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson in the trade. The Trail Blazers landed Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara and Jrue Holiday, though Holiday is expected to be traded again. Portland also received a 2029 draft pick, and unprotected swap rights in 2028 and 2030.
Lillard was selected by the Trail Blazers with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. The former Rookie of the Year earned seven All-Star nods in Portland and is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. He reached the playoffs eight times and made it to the Western Conference finals once, but he never won a title there.
Lillard officially requested his trade on the second day of free agency earlier this offseason, and he made it clear that the Miami Heat were the only team he wanted to play for. His representatives even tried to scare off other teams at one point, but a deal with Miami never came together.
Lillard apologized to Trail Blazers owner Jody Allen in his goodbye post for “any misunderstanding this summer.”
“How this summer played out behind the scenes definitely left a sour taste in my mouth,” Lillard told Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes. “But it doesn’t change the amazing experiences I’ve had with the Trail Blazers and this city. I’ll always cherish this place. This is my home. I’ll live here regardless.”
Giannis to Dame: ‘Let’s get this f***ing championship’
Lillard will now get to team up with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the deal quickly made the Bucks the betting favorite to win the NBA title next season. Lillard has yet to win a title in his career, and Antetokounmpo won his lone championship in 2021.
Though it will take more than just them, this team is undoubtedly Lillard’s best shot at a championship so far.
Antetokounmpo thought so, too.
“Let’s get this f***ing championship,” Antetokounmpo texted Lillard on Wednesday, per Bleacher Report.
"My whole life I've been on underdog teams and if we had a good season, we overachieved. Now I'll be able to play with a player that's better than me and to be a part of a great overall team is a dream come true," Lillard told Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes. "That's never been my experience. It's time for me to be in this situation. And knowing myself enough, I'm going to take advantage of it. I'm excited for this opportunity."