As it pertains to Damian Lillard’s future in Portland, I’ll believe the Blazers’ superstar truly wants out when I see it. But news out of the Pacific Northwest makes it sound like Lillard is more than a little frustrated with the direction of the only organization he’s ever played for. And suddenly, even shockingly, he could finally be ready to leave.
If you didn’t know by now, Lillard is incredibly loyal. He told Complex Sports in 2019, as he’s repeated numerous times over the years, that has wants to do it all in the city he’s grown to love. Adidas, his shoe sponsor and collaborator, has its North American headquarters outside Portland and he loves taking quick meetings with them. He doesn’t want to join a superteam. He wants to attract free agents to Portland. He wants to bring a title to Rip City. He wants to retire as the greatest Blazer of all time. Unfortunately—as the great philosopher and astute cultural observer from the North, Aubrey Drake Graham, once spent 3:49 rhyming about—you can’t have everything.
We all, of course, have breaking points and Lillard may have reached his and could be changing his tune after Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports reported over the weekend that the soon-to-be 31-year-old point guard, easily among the best in the NBA, has grown frustrated with recent team decisions and quite possibly Portland’s championship aspirations moving forward. He expressed on Twitter that Chauncey Billups, named the new coach of the Blazers Sunday, wasn’t one of the candidates he co-signed when the front office asked for input.
It goes without saying that if Lillard did decide to leave Portland and asked the Blazers to trade him, it would be a big deal—literally and figuratively. A six-time All-Star, Lillard just made his sixth All-NBA Team this past season and was part of the MVP discussion for stretches of the season. Still in his prime, Lillard is one of the best clutch shooters in the game, one of the few guys who can take over contests and will his squad to a victory by himself, and he authored one of the greatest individuals performances in recent playoff history with his 55-point effort against the Nuggets in Game 5 of their first-round series. If I have to sell you any harder on Lillard’s game you’re a lost cause.
The idea of attaching him to a serious contender—because chances are Lillard will have some kind of say in where he’s hypothetically traded and it ain’t going to be Detroit—is salivating for anyone who likes to play pretend GM. Which is every basketball fan. So I guess it’s our duty to cook up some trade proposals—again, we’re only sending him to contenders and not to Oklahoma City even though Sam Presti and the Thunder have enough draft capital to trade for Pope Francis. One week after we addressed the Ben Simmons trade speculation, it’s Dame’s time.