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Report: Bucks land Jrue Holiday from Pelicans for Eric Bledsoe, George Hill

Milwaukee is making a play to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo happy by bringing in two-way star Jrue Holiday.

Jrue Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans handles the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks during a scrimmage on July 27, 2020 at The Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks are making a play to keep MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo happy, acquiring two-way stud guard Jrue Holiday from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Eric Bledsoe and George Hill, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported late Monday night. Holiday has been the talk of trade rumors for over a season now and the Pelicans had been trying to find him a new home. The Hawks and Hornets had been teams rumored to be interested in dealing for the veteran guard. Instead, the Bucks just got a little more scary in the East by replacing Bledsoe with Holiday.

Now only are the Pelicans getting Bledsoe and Hill, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Pels will receive significant draft compensation as well. The two sides are still working through picks, so stay tuned for more updates. It’s been a wild day in the NBA trade rumor mill.

Woj is now saying that it’s three first-round picks and a few pick swaps going back to the Pelicans. If the Bucks remain competitive — which is the idea — the picks won’t really matter in the long run. Milwaukee may even be confident that Giannis will sign the super max when he’s qualified to do so and before the 2020-21 season begins.

This move makes sense for a multitude of reasons. Bringing in Holiday gives the Bucks an immediate upgrade at guard — both on the offensive and defensive end. It seemed in the playoffs that either Bledsoe wasn’t 100 percent healthy or he was just struggling. Milwaukee’s goal is to win a title and in order to keep up in the East and with top contenders in the West, the Bucks needed to make a change. So they’ll head into 2020-21 with a Big 3 of Giannis, Khris Middleton and Holiday.

Holiday is technically an expiring contract, though he does have a player option for 2021-22 for $27 million. He may decide to opt out of that deal to seek more money — in fact that will likely be the case. Whether or not the Bucks can retain Holiday is still to be seen. Again, the idea for Milwaukee is to go all-in in 2020-21 and try and get Giannis to the Finals in order to retain him.

Bledsoe’s deal is, well, not so great. Which is why the Pelicans are getting a ton of draft picks back in return. The veteran guard is set to make around $16 million in 2020-21, $18 million the next season, and $19 million the season after that before his deal is up in 2023. Hill is signed through the next two seasons at around $9-10 million per. Despite the contracts, the Pelicans can absorb the salary because most of their younger players are on rookie deals, including Lonzo Ball and Zion Williamson. Brandon Ingram will need to be paid this offseason, but that shouldn’t be an issue.

As for championship odds, the Bucks are still +600 to win it all on DraftKings Sportsbook. Those are the third best odds behind the Lakers and Clippers. Milwaukee isn’t a bad bet at that number. The Bucks were the odds-on favorites for almost all of 2019-20 and got better in adding Holiday to replace Bledsoe.