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Clarion

The student-run newspaper of Cleveland High School

Clarion

The student-run newspaper of Cleveland High School

Clarion

Damian Lillard Traded

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Clarion photo Getty Images/Ringer illustration
Photo : https://www.theringer.com

After 11 years in Portland, the Trail Blazers traded Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks on Sept. 27, ending an era for Portland basketball. In the three team trade, the Bucks received Lillard, the Phoenix Suns received the Blazers’ Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little, and Keon Johnson, as well as Bucks player Grayson Allen. The Blazers also received Jrue Holiday and the Bucks’ 2029 first round pick, plus DeAndre Ayton and Toumani Camara from the Suns.

Lillard was drafted sixth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft from Weber State University. He made an immediate impact, breaking the rookie and Blazers single season records for three pointers made, as well as unanimously winning the NBA Rookie of the Year. In his second season, he made his first all-star game and led Portland to the playoffs, where he hit the iconic series winning shot against the Houston Rockets. The next seasons saw continued success for Lillard, but the Blazers failed to make it past the first round of the playoffs.

Lillard’s backcourt mate, CJ McCollum, began to improve, and in 2018 it looked like the Blazers could make their first NBA Finals in almost 20 years. Lillard once again hit a legendary game winner, sinking a 37 foot buzzer beater to win their opening series vs the OKC Thunder. Against the Denver Nuggets in the second round, Lillard played well, and with McCollum stepping up, Portland won a hard fought seven game series to advance to the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors. Despite the Warriors missing Kevin Durant, an injured Lillard couldn’t power the Blazers to victory, and they lost in four games.

In 2019 and 2020, Lillard proved again why he was one of the best players in the league. However, the lack of playoff success continued with Portland getting eliminated in the first round both seasons. Lillard looked to change that in 2021, but an abdominal injury ended his season early, and the Blazers missed the playoffs for the first time since his rookie year. The Blazers in 2022 were not expected to make the playoffs, and that was what happened. In what would prove to be his final season as a Blazer, Lillard’s highlights included 60 points against the Utah Jazz and 71 against the Rockets, and a career best 32.2 points per game. Despite his lack of playoff success, Lillard is a legend in the NBA and in Portland, and is arguably the greatest Blazer of all time.

Now the Blazers will have to build a new team without Lillard. Scoot Henderson was drafted third overall this season, and is expected to take over Lillard’s role as point guard. Shaedon Sharpe had a strong rookie season last year and is primed to improve, and Jerami Grant and Anfernee Simons will also be the key players for Portland. Ayton will replace Nurkic at center, where despite his strong stats in Phoenix, he has been perceived as not living up to the expectations of a former first overall draft pick. Holiday will likely be traded for draft picks because of his value as a defender. And Camara and fellow rookies Jabari Walker and Kris Murray will look to make an impact off the bench. In Milwaukee, Lillard is now paired with Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the already strong Bucks will be a good bet for the Finals with Damian Lillard now on the team.

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About the Contributor
Rio Madrone, Sports Editor
My name is Rio Madrone and I am a junior at Cleveland. This is my 2nd year on the Clarion, and I work as the editor for the sports section. I enjoy watching sports and listening to music!

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