Damian Lillard says he has not demanded to be traded from the Portland Trail Blazers.
However, Dame also says that he “has not made firm decisions on what his future will be”.
Lillard also told reporters on Friday that he does not see Chauncey Billups as the missing piece to their title aspirations and that the current Blazers team, as constructed, is not a championship team.
The Portland Trail Blazers can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for now.
Damian Lillard has confirmed that he has not demanded to be traded from the Blazers. However, Lillard also said that he “has not made firm decisions on what his future will be”.
Lillard made the statement during the players’ media availability after Team USA’s practice on Friday:
Damian Lillard’s response to the trade rumors: pic.twitter.com/iB1sjfuFaN
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) July 16, 2021
Rumors of a Trade Request
A source close to Damian Lillard says that in the days to come, he plans to request a trade, per @TrueHoop pic.twitter.com/ZWTFuwrMsD
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) July 16, 2021
Early Friday morning, Henry Abbott of True Hoops reported that someone close to Lillard said that in the days to come, the Blazers’ superstar guard is planning to request a trade. However, Lillard says that a lot of things have been said and none are coming from him. He said he woke up to the rumor but says that it’s not true.
Lillard has been the subject of trade rumors since he received backlash from fans regarding the Blazers’ controversial hiring of Chauncey Billups as head coach. Lillard denied the rumors at that time but even though weeks had passed since that time, the stories have refused to die.
Portland has been linked to Ben Simmons and the best betting NBA sites have the Blazers as the odds on favorite to land Simmons in a trade. Simmons is reportedly on the trading block after a disappointing performance in the 2021 NBA playoffs. The Blazers meanwhile, have been rumored to be looking for upgrades after firing head coach Terry Stotts.
Initial rumors pointed to Lillard’s backcourt partner C.J. McCollum as the possible Portland player involved in a Simmons deal but Sixers president for basketball operations Daryl Morey recently hinted that his team wants Lillard, not McCollum despite the obvious.
Meeting with Billups and Olshey
Report: Chauncey Billups and Blazers GM are expected to meet with Damian Lillard today, via @TheFrankIsola pic.twitter.com/kwq5e5HTuB
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) July 16, 2021
Lillard is expected to meet with Billups and Blazers GM Neil Olshey today in Las Vegas to discuss the issues at hand. While Dame denied that he is demanding to be traded, he also said today that he’s not fully satisfied with the situation in Portland. He acknowledged the success they’ve had over the years but according to Lillard, they’re reached a point where what they’ve done is not enough.
As to Billups’ hiring, Lillard says that their new coach can help the team improve. However, he does not believe that Billups is the missing piece. Lillard also told reporters that he does not think that the current Blazers team, as constructed, is one that could go all the way and win the NBA championship.
Dame stressed that for as long as the Blazers take strides towards competing for an NBA championship, he wants to stay in Portland for the rest of his career. When reporters asked him if he envisions himself playing for the Blazers next season, Lillard answered in the positive.
But while the Blazers should be relieved with Lillard’s statement, it’s clear that there’s tremendous pressure on Olshey to deliver what his star wants. The Blazers have no draft picks in the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft and they also have limited salary cap flexibility. That means he will have to swing for the fences with big moves to give Lillard the cast he needs to win the chip.