While reports earlier this month claimed Lillard was planning to submit a formal trade request to his longtime Blazers franchise, the superstar point guard has since denied those rumors, instead putting an emphasis on building a title-contending roster around him in Portland.
That being said, Lillard did leave the door ajar for potential suitors this offseason, saying he hasn’t made any “firm decisions” on his NBA future.
With a shot to land one of the premier point guards in the league, multiple NBA franchises are reportedly making “aggressive” pushes for Lillard: Miami, Sacramento, New York, Houston and Philadelphia.
“Few team executives expect a Dame deal to happen this offseason. But multiple front-office sources say the Heat, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, and Sixers have recently been the most aggressive suitors,” Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer wrote on Tuesday.
According to O’Connor, executives believe a trade for Lillard could yield an equal or larger payout than the Rockets got for James Harden earlier this year.
“Front-office executives say that if the Blazers eventually move Lillard, they can expect a return rivaling or surpassing what the Nets gave up for James Harden: multiple young players, plus three first-round picks and four first-round pick swaps. Harden is a former MVP, but he had only two guaranteed seasons left on his contract at the time of the trade. Portland could do even better because Lillard has four seasons remaining on his contract worth a grand total of $176 million. The long-term security in Lillard’s contract could lead to more interest from teams and more return in a trade.”
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) July 20, 2021
Through nine seasons and six All-Star selections with the Trail Blazers, Lillard has been intensely loyal to the franchise that drafted him with the No. 6 overall pick in 2012. But, after eight straight failed playoff appearances, that loyalty may be started to waiver.
These recent playoff struggles compounded with the controversial hire of new head coach Chauncey Billups could be enough to bring his time with Portland to an end.
At least for now, Lillard is a Trail Blazers.
Let’s see if that statement can hold through the remainder of this offseason.