Milwaukee Bucks See Huge Futures Bump After Damian Lillard Trade

Posted on: September 28, 2023, 11:55h. 

Last updated on: September 28, 2023, 12:58h.

The Milwaukee Bucks are now the betting favorite at +390 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA championship. That’s after they pulled off a blockbuster trade to acquire All-Star guard Damian Lillard.

Damian Lillard Greek Freak Bucks
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo posts up former Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard. The two are now teammates after a blockbuster trade. (Image: Getty)

The trade seemingly came out of nowhere after the Toronto Raptors recently emerged as favorites to land Lillard when negotiations with the Miami Heat fizzled out.

On Wednesday morning, the Heat were the betting favorite to pull off a trade for Lillard at -250 odds, and the Raptors were second on DraftKings’ prop betting board at +400 odds. The Bucks were a long shot at +2000 odds to add Lillard in a trade, so even the top sportsbooks were surprised when the trade was announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Bucks Add Lillard in 3-Team Trade

The Trail Blazers wanted four first-round draft picks from the Heat to trade Lillard. The Heat’s best offer was a package that included two first-round picks, former Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro, and a couple of role players or prospects like Nikola Jovic or incoming rookie Jamie Jaquez from UCLA.

The Trail Blazers had a self-imposed deadline to trade Lillard before NBA Media Day on Monday, October 2. Portland general manager Joe Cronin privately approached the Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks last week to let them know that he’d reached an impasse with the Heat. The media got wind of the Raptors’ involvement, but the Bucks were able to maintain a level of secrecy.

The Bucks asked the Phoenix Suns to facilitate a three-way trade for Lillard. The Suns and Trail Blazers were already discussing a trade involving former #1 pick Deandre Ayton.

The Bucks traded point guard Jrue Holiday to the Trail Blazers in addition to a 2029 first-round pick and two first-round pick swaps (in 2028 and 2030). The Bucks also sent guard Grayson Allen to the Suns.

The Suns traded center Ayton and rookie forward Toumani Camara to the Trail Blazers. The Trail Blazers sent the Suns center Jusuf Nurkic, shooting guard Keon Johnson, and small forward Nassir Little to complete the trade.

Futures Markets Surge for the Bucks

The Bucks saw a huge surge across the NBA futures board immediately after news broke about the Lillard trade.

The Bucks are the new consensus favorite at DraftKings to win the NBA championship, jumping from +850 odds on Wednesday morning to +400 odds as soon as the trade was announced. Their current odds are a tick below at +390.

The Bucks were +330 odds to win the Eastern Conference before the trade, and saw a bump to +165 odds after the trade. Their odds to secure the #1 playoff seed moved from +220 to +125

The Bucks have dominated the Central Division and won five consecutive division titles. They were the betting favorite to win a sixth-straight title at -230 odds before the Lillard trade. Their divisional odds are currently -380.

The Bucks saw their season win total jump from 52.5 over/under to 55.5 o/u.

The Suns were +650 odds to win the NBA championship after they acquired guard Bradley Beal in a trade with the Washington Wizards. The Suns’ odds are now +600 after they traded away Ayton and acquired Nurkic and key role players in the Lillard trade.

During the summer, the Heat saw an uptick in the championship odds under the assumption they would add Lillard in a trade. Their title odds dropped from +900 to +2800 after the Bucks snatched away Lillard and the Heat were left empty-handed.

Bucks All-In to Avoid Losing ‘Greek Freak’

Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo put the Bucks on notice when he said the organization has to demonstrate they want to win another championship before he signs a contract extension. The Knicks were a favorite to land Antetokounmpo in a trade, while numerous other teams like the Heat, Golden State Warriors, and Dallas Mavericks were salivating at a chance to land the two-time MVP.

The Bucks won the NBA title in 2020-21 under head coach Mike Budenholzer. They failed to repeat as champions in the 2022 playoffs, when forward Khris Middleton sustained a knee injury.

The Bucks secured the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season with the best record in the NBA at 58-24. They were upset in the first round by the #8 Heat. Antetokounmpo missed time in that series when he suffered a back injury after a hard fall in Game 1.

The Bucks fired Budenholzer after their disastrous playoff exit and hired Adrian Griffin, who was an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors. Griffin added Terry Stotts to his staff, who was previously a head coach with the Trail Blazers and has a strong relationship with Lillard.

The Bucks took a step back on defense and traded Holiday in order to vastly improve their half-court offense and perimeter shooting with the addition of Lillard. Holiday was widely considered one of the NBA’s top two-way players, but his offensive production tailed off since the Bucks won a title in 2021.

The Trail Blazers intend to trade Holiday as soon as possible. Multiple teams are interested in the former All-Star point guard, including the Heat, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers, and New York Knicks.