Same face new place as NBA season kicks off
The NBA season is upon us.
On Tuesday night, the NBA kicks off its schedule just over four months after the Denver Nuggets won their first championship in franchise history.
A lot has transpired since Denver defeated the Miami Heat in five games as the NBA has essentially become a yearlong sport.
There has been quite a bit of player movement in the last few months, so let’s take a look at a few familiar faces playing in new cities.
Damian Lillard, Milwaukee Bucks
Damian Lillard asked in July to be traded from the only team he has ever known after 11 seasons in Portland.
Lillard, a seven-time All-NBA selection, reportedly only wanted to be traded to the Miami Heat, but after months of no movement, he decided that the Bucks and Brooklyn Nets would also be suitable landing spots.
He was moved in a three-team deal with the Bucks and Phoenix Suns, pairing the seven-time All-Star with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“This is in no shape or form any competition with me and him, who’s going to have the ball more,” Antetokounmpo said, according to NBA.com. “He will have the ball more. And I trust, I believe he’s going to find me. And not just me, he’s going to find our teammates and put us in the right positions.”
Jrue Holiday, Boston Celtics
As part of the Lillard trade, the Bucks were forced to depart with one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, Jrue Holiday.
After being traded to the Blazers, Holiday’s services were highly sought after by multiple teams, with the Celtics eventually providing the best offer for Portland.
Boston traded Robert Williams, Malcolm Brogden, a 2024 first-round draft pick and an unprotected 2029 first-rounder.
Holiday, a five-time All-NBA Defense selection, is now paired with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on the perimeter as Boston has reshaped its roster.
More on that below.
Kristaps Porzingis, Boston Celtics
The Celtics needed to make a change after taking a step back during the 2022-23 season.
Boston was eliminated in seven games by the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals one year after reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
Brad Stevens made a bold move, trading Marcus Smart in a three-team deal with the Memphis Grizzlies and Washington Wizards to acquire Kristaps Porzingis.
Boston’s ceiling with Porzingis certainly appears to be higher, but injury concerns are always an issue when it comes to the big man.
Porzingis played in 65 games with the Wizards last season after failing to play more than 60 games the five seasons prior.
Bradley Beal, Phoenix Suns
New owner Matt Ishbia made a major splash in February when he completed a monster trade for 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant.
It turns out he was just getting started.
Phoenix moved veteran point guard Chris Paul to the Washington Wizards in exchange for three-time All-Star Bradley Beal.
Beal now becomes the third scoring option behind Durant and Devin Booker, as the Suns try to maximize their championship window with Durant.
“They’re scorers but they’re playmakers. They’re good at just playing basketball. You can put ’em in all different spots on the floor and they can be effective as playmakers,” Grayson Allen said of the new Big Three, according to Arizona Sports.
“In terms of bringing it up, it’s whoever can get it up the fastest,” Allen added.
Chris Paul, Golden State Warriors
Chris Paul was not in Washington for long, as the Warriors made a move to shake up the roster following a difficult season in the Bay Area.
Golden State shipped Jordan Poole to Wasington, D.C., less than one year after Draymond Green punched Poole in the face during training camp.
Golden State struggled to regain its championship-level play all season, eventually falling to the Lakers in the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
Enter Paul, a 12-time All-Star looking for his elusive championship ring.
The fit alongside Curry will be fascinating to watch early in the season.
Deandre Ayton, Portland Trail Blazers
Deandre Ayton had not been happy in Phoenix since the Suns were bounced from the 2021-22 playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks.
It was time to move on, and the Suns shipped Ayton to Portland as part of the three-team Lillard deal.
Ayton should get more touches on a rebuilding team built around third-overall pick Scoot Henderson.
“New beginning,” Ayton said when he was introduced in Portland, per NBA.com. “I get to show the world, show you guys who I am as a player on and off the court. Helping the young guys on this team win. Teaching them how to win.”