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Sunday, October 01, 2023

Celtics Acquire Jrue Holiday From Trail Blazers in Exchange for Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams III

While the Portland Trail Blazers make aggressive moves as part of their long term plan for a post-Damian Lillard future, Eastern Conference contenders are receiving players who they think can help them win big right now. First, Portland sent Damian Lillard to Milwaukee in a three team deal, and now Portland sent Jrue Holiday--acquired from Milwaukee as part of the Lillard trade--to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Williams III, and two first round draft picks. 

The Trail Blazers may not be done dealing, but at this point they already have turned an aging, undersized guard who led them to one Western Conference Finals in 11 years into Deandre Ayton, Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Williams III and three first round draft picks plus two pick swaps. The Trail Blazers are not going to win an NBA title any time soon, but it would not be crazy to suggest that their overall roster right now is better than it was before trading Lillard, and it would not at all be surprising if the rebuilding Trail Blazers win at least as many games in the 2023-24 season as they did during the 2022-23 season (33).

Meanwhile, the Celtics not only have one of the NBA's best duos with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown but a good case could be made that the top six players in their rotation are collectively better than any other team's top six players: Tatum and Brown are now flanked by Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue Holiday, Al Horford, and Derrick White. Remember that the Celtics reached the Eastern Conference Finals last year with a six man rotation consisting of Tatum, Brown, Marcus Smart, Horford, White, and Brogdon. Holiday and Porzingis are without question upgrades over Smart and Brogdon. 

It is interesting that Holiday demonstrated at least as much market value as Lillard--and more market value than James Harden, who has hardly drawn a sniff of interest around the league. Media members may be very impressed by Harden and Lillard, but when teams have to make critical (and expensive) personnel decisions we see that Lillard and Harden are not viewed as number one options for championship caliber teams: Milwaukee brought in Lillard to be the number two option behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Boston gave up at least as much value to get Holiday to be a third or fourth option as Portland received for Lillard.

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posted by David Friedman @ 10:49 PM



At Monday, October 02, 2023 9:20:00 AM, Anonymous TR said...

Man, the Celtics have an awful lot riding on KP's health. I'm glad they got off of Brogdon, but wish they had not given up Timelord. And I wonder where Pritchard is going to find minutes.

At Monday, October 02, 2023 10:03:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


That is true, but before they had an awful lot riding on Williams III's health and on Brogdon's health/willingness to play a lesser role/ability to accept that the Celtics tried to trade him before. There is rarely growth without risk, and I think that the risks that the Celtics took have good growth potential; the Celtics should do whatever they can do to maximize their chances of winning at least one title during the prime years of the Tatum/Brown duo.

At Monday, October 02, 2023 11:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's an odd trade for Boston. Holiday is an upgrade from Brogdon but not that much, and Holiday is a guy who struggles in the playoffs. Boston gave up a lot.

Disagree that Holiday demonstrated as much market value as Lillard. Milwaukee gave up much more than Holiday to obtain Lillard. Portland is doing a job getting as much as possible in their trades. This doesn't necessarily mean all trades are equal. Of course Harden/Lillard aren't viewed as #1 options for a championship caliber team as this stage of their careers, very few guards would be. They're older players who've been more injury prone lately. Every player in the league would be the #2 option behind Giannis at best if they joined Milwaukee, regardless if Giannis is leading his #1 seed team to a 1st round loss. On the surface, it was a good move by Milwaukee to bring Lillard in but we'll see if he can stay healthy, but Holiday hasn't been exactly super healthy himself either.

At Monday, October 02, 2023 1:23:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Boston gave up a big man who can't stay healthy, and who only plays about 20 mpg when he is healthy, plus a backup pg who is not happy with his role and whose injured shoulder scuttled an earlier trade to ship him to the Clippers. Who knows if the draft picks will produce good players but even if that happens those players would not likely help Tatum and Brown any time soon, so the picks are more valuable for Portland than for Boston. I think that Boston paid a reasonable price for a player who was the starting pg for a championship team two years ago.

Which team gave up more is debatable regarding the Lillard and Holiday trades, but the fact that the packages are even comparable speaks volumes: paid talent evaluators do not think as highly of Lillard (or Harden) as adoring (and misinformed) media members do.

Assuming you are the same Anonymous who keeps belittling Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee, are you more impressed by what LeBron James has accomplished in four seasons with fellow top-75 selection Anthony Davis? The tally is one championship, one first round loss, one season of missing the playoffs, and one WCF appearance. LeBron is widely touted as the greatest player ever, while Davis is better than any teammate Antetokounmpo has ever had, but in the past four years Antetokounmpo has won as many titles as LeBron. If you will also label LeBron (and Embiid, Tatum, Harden, etc.) as an underachiever then at least you are consistent, but if Antetokounmpo is the only underachiever who you can identify among the league's great players then your argument has some obvious and fatal flaws. In short, I am trying to figure out if you apply tough grading standards across the board, or if you just have a bias against Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee.


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