Now paired with Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo once vetoed Jimmy Butler trade in favor of current teammate
Giannis Antetokounmpo will have a new point guard next season after the Milwaukee Bucks acquired Damian Lillard in a three-team trade.
The Miami Heat lost out on Lillard, who had initially preferred to team up with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. To exacerbate matters for Butler, Antetokounmpo reportedly vetoed a trade for him a few years ago when he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
According to Justine Termine of SiriusXM NBA Radio, former Bucks big man John Henson told him that the franchise wanted to trade Khris Middleton for Butler in 2018. Butler was unhappy with his situation in Minnesota and wanted to get out of the team.
The Bucks asked Antetokounmpo, who cemented himself as the franchise superstar at that point, about a potential Butler trade, but he vetoed a deal. He preferred to play with Middleton, who had been with him from the start.
The reported veto worked out for all parties involved. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton helped the Milwaukee Bucks win the 2021 NBA championship. It was the Bucks' first title in 50 years, and they're looking to add another one next season with Damian Lillard in tow.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler got traded to the Philadelphia 76ers before signing with the Miami Heat in free agency. Butler and Heat Culture were a perfect marriage, and it has led them to NBA Finals appearances in 2020 and 2022.
The rivalry between the Bucks and Heat is expected to reach a boiling point this season. Heat fans are furious that they didn't get Lillard, while the Bucks are out for revenge after getting eliminated by Miami in the first round of the playoffs last year.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard compared to Denver Nuggets duo by ESPN analyst
According to ESPN's Kendrick Perkins, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard are a perfect duo, comparing them with the Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
Perkins explained that a Giannis-Dame two-man game is going to be deadly, and he has them winning the 2024 NBA championship.
"This is a perfect fit when you talk about Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard. Who won the NBA championship this past season?
"It was Jamal Murray and Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. How teams can stop Jamal Murray and Jokic and the two-man game? We're going to see the same thing with Damian Lillard and Giannis."
"The beautiful thing about this whole situation is 'Dame Dolla' is able to play off the ball, his capability to play off the ball. Matter of fact, this is who I got winning the NBA championship right now. My early prediction, they are the favorite."