By STEVEN VAUGHAN, 750 THE GAME
It’s a day we knew was coming. The team was unknown. The trade was coming. Damian Lillard is heading to Milwaukee in a trade. The deal is a good one on paper for the Trail Blazers. But it’s not all excitement for Rip City.
John Canzano said on Wednesday’s radio show (3-6 p.m.) that even though it was a good trade for the Trail Blazers, he had some somber feelings.
“I’m left feeling a little flat,” Canzano said to open the show on 750 The Game. “Flat in part because we’re watching a generational player in the Trail Blazers history move on to somewhere else. Flat in part because I’m watching another small market, Milwaukee, celebrate the arrival of a star player. Proving it can be done. We’ve wondered, haven’t we, in Portland? But I’m just left in general, despite knowing what was going to happen, feeling a little bit somber about the departure of Damian Lillard.”
Canzano has never been a fan of Blazers ownership. And he shouldn’t. But is there a reality where this should have been the Blazers acquiring a star player? Canzano thinks so.
“Was the problem in Portland management and ownership? I suspect it is,” he said. “We will soon find out because Damian Lillard is going somewhere else. And he’s joining a team that is more then capable of competing for a NBA championship. If he breaks through. If there’s a parade in Milwaukee. If fans in Milwaukee get to have confetti dropping. Winning a conference finals. Winning a NBA Finals. I’ll be left thinking that should have and could have happened in Portland if circumstances were different.”
The Damian Lillard era is over and now it’s Chauncey Billups’ time to step up according to Canzano.
“To Damian Lillard: I say good luck. To the Trail Blazers, who I think got a pretty good deal: I say please do better. Chauncey Billups, Blazers coach, finally has a team he can call his own. It’s not Damian Lillard’s team. This will be Chauncey Billups’ team and his roster moving forward.”
The Bucks are the new favorites to win the NBA Championship. It seems like a seamless fit with Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo on the court. But Canzano says that may not be the case.
“Giannis gets Damian Lillard. Lillard gets Giannis. Is the problem Blazers ownership? Or will Damian Lillard have a difficult time playing along side another player who needs the ball? I wondered that in the 2020 Olympics when Lillard competed along side other teammates and was the fourth leading scorer on the Team USA roster and shot only 38% from the floor seeming to struggle at times. Maybe some of it was the international style of play. Or maybe some of it was Damian Lillard struggling to do what he had never done. Play along side other NBA all stars. I think we’re going to find out in this experiment.”
The Damian Lillard piece of this trade is over. Lillard is in Milwaukee. However, the Blazers are expected to move on from Jure Holiday who they acquired in the deal. The drama never stops in the NBA, and John Canzano is all over it.
Catch the Bald Faced Truth with John Canzano weekdays 3-6 p.m. in Portland exclusively on 750 The Game.