Damian Lillard ending up in Milwaukee WAS unexpected for those following the NBA news cycle at the time, considering there was extensive reporting claiming Lillard would only play for Miami.
But at some point, Dame warmed to the idea of playing for the Bucks, and it turns out there was an unexpected X-Factor helping sell Lillard on Milwaukee. That X-Factor was Pat Connaughton.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had long attempted to convince Lillard to join the Bucks, but Lillard has always responded by suggesting Giannis join him in Portland instead.
This is where Connaughton came in, according to Lillard.
“Pat Connaughton, who’s on our team now, was my rook in Portland,” he said on ‘Knuckleheads’, a podcast hosted by former NBA players Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles.
“And then he ended up signing with Milwaukee. So when he was here, he was like the middleman. So we was in the group chat … [Giannis would say] like ‘Pat, tell him to come here’. He like, ‘Pat, no, tell Dame, he need to come to Milwaukee’. So like it was like ongoing like that.”
In the end, Connaughton’s work paid off, with Lillard traded to Milwaukee in September as part of a blockbuster three-team deal that also involved the Phoenix Suns.
After an up-and-down start to the season for the Bucks, Lillard has won the last seven games he’s played in, with Milwaukee losing the two games he recently missed.
The Bucks are currently 9-4, sitting third in the East.