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Report: Milwaukee makes big splash, near trade to acquire Jrue Holiday

Michael Holley and Michael Smith discuss reports that James Harden is seeking a trade to either the Nets or 76ers and how he would adjust to playing with other stars while potentially making for another super team.

The Milwaukee Bucks were looking to make a bold move — particularly at the point guard spot — that could push them into the Finals in the East. And more importantly, keep Giannis Antetokounmpo happy.

They have just done it. Milwaukee will get guard Jrue Holiday in a trade with New Orleans in exchange for Eric Bledsoe and George Hill, plus three first-round picks and some pick swaps, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic, with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN adding details.

It’s a trade that has Milwaukee thinking title this season and shows New Orleans is thinking contending in a few years.

For Milwaukee, five draft picks — three first-round picks, including the No. 24 in this year’s draft (the other two need to be 2024 or farther out, due to other trades), and two pick-swap options — is a steep price for Holiday. Especially since he has an expiring contract and could walk after this season (he has a $26.8 million player option for next season, but Holiday is expected to opt-out and test free agency).

It’s still the smart play for Milwaukee. The Bucks needed to make a big move to show Antetokounmpo they are committed to winning as we enter the window where he can sign a contract extension to stay with them.

If he re-signs (now or next offseason), it was worth every pick and more. Antetokounmpo has said he would stay so long as the Bucks organization showed a commitment to winning. This is certainly a commitment.

On the court, Holiday is an upgrade at point guard for Milwaukee and a fantastic fit as a third star with Antetokounmpo and Kris Middleton. Plus, they actually save money.

For the Pelicans, it’s more picks — as many as they got in the Anthony Davis trade — to help build a team around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. This move shows that, while the Pelicans would like to make the playoffs this season, the real focus is to build a younger team that can reach the West’s upper stratosphere in a few years, as their core matures. GM David Griffin can use those picks, or ultimately trade them again for the player he needs.

This also means Lonzo Ball will have more minutes and ball-handling duties in the Big Easy, unless the team makes a move for another point guard.