How the Damian Lillard trade alters the NBA

(News4usonline) – Teams in the Western Conference said bye-bye to former Portland Trail Blazers shooting star Damian Lillard. Lillard is now a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, thanks to a three-team trade that just happened. So what are the immediate and long-term effects of the swap?

One, the headache of having Lillard and his outrageous basketball play, especially the guard’s ability to send last-second shock waves to opponents with a 3-bomb from just about anywhere on the basketball court, has just been officially regulated to happen twice a season for Western Conference teams.

Former Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard was traded from the team to the Milwaukee Bucks. File photo/Melinda Meijer for News4usonline

The unduly task of trying to shut down the seven-time All-Star on a regular basis is now up to Eastern Conference teams like the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and Toronto Raptors. Teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Golden State Warriors only have to see Lillard twice in the season now.

For NBA fans out West, that’s bad news. That’s because getting the opportunity to see a future Hall of Famer in Lillard will now come with a premium price. By playing for an Eastern Conference ballclub, Lillard will only make one trip to the West Coast to play a team in the Western Conference. The only other time that a Western Conference team faces off against Lillard and the Bucks, they’ll have to travel to Milwaukee.

So if fans on the West Coast are planning on catching Lillard at work, now would be a good time to get a ticket or two. Lightning comes just once, and Western Conference fans who got accustomed to seeing Lillard or took it for granted seeing one of the more prolific scorers in NBA history, are a bit out of luck now.

At least by playing the Lakers and Clippers, Southern California basketball fans get two opportunities to see Lillard play. Outside of that, you will have to get a plane ticket and fly to the Midwest. Enjoy the trip.

For what this trade means to the landscape of the NBA, well the dynamics shift to the Bucks to be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

Boston, a team that played in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season and got upended by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals two seasons ago, remains a tough out due to their defensive prowess. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart, and the Green crew will give Lillard and Milwaukee center Giannis Antetokounmpo all they can handle.

Then there is the Miami factor. It was no secret that Lillard wanted to be traded to South Florida to play alongside Jimmy Butler and the Heat. That didn’t happen. Butler and Miami are probably the biggest losers in this debacle.

Miami, instead of being one missing piece away from perhaps being a championship-caliber team, now has to go back to the drawing board and start the season with a big almost. The Heat almost landed the most coveted NBA player on the trade market. Last season, Butler and Miami fell down on their swords and watched the Denver Nuggets win the NBA championship.

In his final season with the Portland Trail Blazers, guard Damian Lillard averaged 32.2 points and 7.3 assists a game. File photo/Melinda Meijer for News4usonline

Landing Lillard would have no doubt put Miami as the frontrunner to win the NBA title for this season. And with NBA teams opening training camp and preseason play not too far away, the Heat’s inability to pull off this blockbuster trade is going to leave a nasty taste in their mouths.

Lillard, now playing in his 12 NBA season, averaged 32.2 points and 7.3 assists last season for Portland. He made just 46 percent of his shots from the field. For his career, Lillard averages 25. 2 points and 6.7 assists per contest. One team’s pain is another team’s gain.

Surely, Butler and the Heat are going to feel the pain of not getting Lillard. Compounding matters is the fact that Butler and Miami will have to square off against Lillard and Milwaukee four times in a season now that he is an official member of the Bucks. Happy trails.

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