Earlier this offseason, Damian Lillard was at the center of the NBA rumor mill, with plenty speculating that he could force his way off of the Portland Trail Blazers. While he clearly has his concerns about where things stand with his franchise, he denied that he is going to push his way off the team this year.
“I woke up to those reports, a lot of people reaching out to me. But it’s not true,” he said at Team USA practice this summer, after TrueHoop reported that he would ask for a trade. “I’ll start off the rip and say it’s not true. A lot of things are being said. It hasn’t come from me. I haven’t made any firm decision on what my future will be.”
That didn’t completely stop the rumors from coming. The New York Knicks, who are in real need of a Lillard-level star, and the Los Angeles Lakers were at the center of them… until the Lakers made a huge trade for Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook ahead of the NBA Draft, that is.
Even that hasn’t stopped all the speculation. One Twitter user invited bets that the Lakers will “STILL” get Lillard ahead of the 2021-22 season. Lillard, channeling his inner-Kevin Durant, decided to chime in.
Bet a Million. https://t.co/CloZY3Iq4c
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) August 12, 2021
At this point, it’s a pretty fair bet that Damian Lillard is going to be a Portland Trail Blazer when the season rolls around this fall. The team will look different, of course—Terry Stotts has been replaced as head coach by Chauncey Billups and wing Carmelo Anthony is now a Laker—but Lillard remains the constant.
Now, if Portland continues to have a hard ceiling that is pretty well short of the NBA Finals, which is probably a fair expectations, it is likely that Lillard will head elsewhere at some point. The era of superstars staying with one team, especially a team that doesn’t win championships, is far behind us.