The Milwaukee Bucks seemingly came out of nowhere to land superstar guard Damian Lillard in a blockbuster trade with the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday. Lillard had been most connected with Miami, but now the Bucks have quite the offensive firepower with Lillard joining the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and company.
Erik Gundersen joined Sean Highkin on the Audacy original podcast “The Rose Garden Report” and the two explained why the Bucks should’ve been taken more seriously prior to the trade.
“I’m a little mad at myself for not thinking about Milwaukee more seriously. All of the connections are there,” Gundersen said (4:40 in player above). “You’ve got Dame and Giannis. You had Giannis picking Dame first last year during the All-Star Draft.”
While you can only read into All-Star Drafts so much, it was clear that Giannis had respect for Lillard.
The Bucks also have some guys that Lillard is familiar with from his long tenure in Portland.
“I had totally forgotten about that,” Highkin said. “Dame and Giannis. Who did they hire as their lead assistant under Adrian Griffin earlier this summer? Terry Stotts. Who was on that team? Pat Connaughton and Robin Lopez, two of Dame’s guys from previous years.
“The number one thing Dame wanted was Miami but what is the number one thing that Dame has said that he wants overall? A chance to contend. Dame and Giannis is kind of the best you’re going to do at that from his end.”
Lillard is joining a team that can make up for his weaknesses and play to his strengths.
“It’s the best complement that he can have, plus Brook Lopez,” Gundersen said. “He’s got rim protection – and Middleton can defend…
"He’s going to be on a team with way more guys that can cover up for his physical deficiencies which is maybe he doesn’t have the longest arms, he’s not the biggest guy at guard, but he will fight and he will fight in the post if someone tries to post him up and he’s pretty strong down there. He’s not Jrue Holiday, but on the flip side, he’s not Jrue Holiday on the offensive side. Good luck stopping the Bucks at all.”
The Bucks were already expected to be one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference and they took another step forward by adding Lillard to the squad.