Stephen A. Smith’s eye-opening Damian Lillard claim sparks Bucks trade speculation

Will the Bucks consider trading Damian Lillard?

The Milwaukee Bucks are preparing for the NBA playoffs. Milwaukee finished the 2023-24 regular season with 49-33 record, which was good for third place in the Eastern Conference. Almost everyone agrees that the Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard-led Bucks feature no shortage of potential, but they did not meet their lofty expectations during the regular season.

On left, Stephen A. Smith saying the following: Trade! On right, Bucks' Damian Lillard looking serious.

Still, Milwaukee will have an opportunity to make a deep playoff run. Of course, Antetokounmpo’s health will be of the utmost importance. The Bucks star is currently dealing with a calf injury.

Meanwhile, Stephen A. Smith recently made an attention-catching claim about Damian Lillard while speaking on ESPN First Take, via ClutchPoints.

“If Milwaukee loses, I think you need to consider moving Dame up outta there,” Smith said. “I’m not talking about his game. He’s not happy there.”

Smith said that he understands Lillard has dealt with other distractions and he wishes Lillard the best. The famous ESPN personality then said that playing in Milwaukee “may not be ideal for him.”

If Lillard truly is not happy in Milwaukee like Smith said, then trade rumors may begin to surface. Damian Lillard dealt with trade  rumors for a significant portion of the time during his career with the Portland Trail Blazers.

He probably was not expecting to hear his name and the word “trade” in the same sentence for a while after the Blazers-Bucks deal last offseason, but now Smith thinks it’s something Milwaukee should consider if the team struggles in the playoffs.

Damian Lillard’s first season with Bucks

Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) warms up before a game against the Boston Celtics at Fiserv Forum.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Lillard, 33, was selected to his eighth All-Star team during the 2023-24 campaign. He stayed healthy for the most part as well, appearing in 73 games.

Overall, Lillard averaged 24.3 points per game on 42.4 percent field goal and 35.4 percent three-point shooting. The Bucks star also recorded averages of 4.4 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.0 steals per game.

The Bucks acquired Lillard to potentially win a championship. Still, losing in the playoffs during his first season with his new team typically would not spark a plethora of trade rumors. Again, Smith’s comments will be something to think about if the Bucks end up getting eliminated early in the postseason.

Smith also mentioned Lillard’s off-the-court distractions, which include moving to a new city after spending his entire career in Portland and going through a divorce.

Antetokounmpo previously addressed Lillard’s 2023-24 campaign.

“The off-the-court stuff is hard (for Lillard),” Antetokounmpo said in March, via Sam Amick of The Athletic. “But let’s put that on the side. Just being on the court is hard for him. He’s coming out of his comfort zone, playing with a guy like me on a team where guys can make plays. Maybe a lot of time in Portland, he didn’t necessarily have guys who can make as many plays as we can make.”

Antetokounmpo makes a good point. Adjusting to a new team is never an easy thing to do. Lillard was the go-to superstar in Portland, now he is playing alongside one of the best players in the league.

He also is now apart of a different offensive scheme. There are different coaches and different players. Lillard’s 2023-24 season has been a different one, yet he’s still managed to record respectable numbers.

It will be interesting to see if Damian Lillard can lead the Bucks to a first round series win against the Indiana Pacers as Giannis Antetokounmpo’s status remains in question due to injury.

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