Bucks Make Their Case for Giannis With Jrue Holiday Trade

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Milwaukee will not go down without a fight. With the possibility of two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo becoming a free agent next summer, the Bucks are bolstering their roster by trading for guard Jrue Holiday, according to multiple reports. Holiday, one of the best defensive guards in the league, was one of the most sought after names on the trade market. In exchange, the Bucks will send guards Eric Bledoe and George Hill as well as three first-round draft picks to the Pelicans. New Orleans will also receive two pick swaps in the deal. Let’s grade the deal for each side.

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Bucks: C+

If this is what it takes to keep Giannis happy, I guess you give up as many draft picks as necessary? Holiday is a clear upgrade over both Bledsoe and Hill—he’s a staunch defender at multiple positions, with a more varied offensive game than anyone the Bucks are giving up. Milwaukee couldn’t afford to go this offseason without making a significant upgrade to the roster, and acquiring a talent such as Holiday while keeping Khris Middleton on the team is hugely important. The draft picks going out will raise eyebrows, but the cost should probably be more closely associated with keeping Antetokounmpo as opposed to acquiring Holiday. Milwaukee has to go all-in on keeping Giannis beyond next season, which means overpaying in a deal such as this one.

Still, while the Bucks weren’t dealing from a position of strength in terms of players they could send out, this is a massive risk in the event Giannis leaves. Wouldn’t you rather have Chris Paul on this team somehow instead of Holiday? Could he have been had for three firsts? Maybe two firsts? Realistically, this deal can’t be properly graded until we see what happens with Giannis. Everything for Milwaukee hinges on that decision. If the Freak stays, this trade becomes a masterstroke. If he leaves, it becomes an epic failure. So for now, we play it down the middle.

Pelicans: B

You know what? I’m over these massive draft picks hauls! Holiday was one of the hottest names on the trade market, and I think New Orleans should have done more to beef up the current roster as opposed to kicking the can down the road. Maybe those Bucks picks end up in the lottery and everyone will bring this up one day as an example of how much of an idiot I am. David Griffin is probably betting on Giannis leaving, in which case he could have several upcoming picks in the lottery. But it would have been nice to see Holiday moved for a couple younger rotation pieces who could help Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson right away!

Ultimately, the staggering number of picks Milwaukee was willing to offer made this too good to pass up for the Pelicans. New Orleans is going to have a crazy amount of first rounders in the next few years courtesy of the Bucks and Lakers. They also will have trouble actually putting all of those guys on the roster, so at best a bunch of those picks probably turn into a trade for another guy at some point. With this move, Griffin is playing it safe, and my trade grades reward the bold.