This morning, TrueHoop reported that Lillard was planning to ask for a trade away from Portland. He’s openly expressed concerns about the team’s ability to compete for a championship, after another early playoff exit in 2021.
A later report by The Oregonian went in the other direction. Both reports came with the knowledge that Lillard would speak to the media about the situation, while in Las Vegas preparing for the Tokyo Olympics with Team USA.
“It’s not true,” Lillard said of the TrueHoop report. However, the rest of his statement is far from decisive about his future with the Trail Blazers, who drafted him back in 2012.
Damian Lillard: "I woke up to those reports, a lot of people reaching out to me. But it's not true. 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."
— Sean Highkin (@highkin) July 16, 2021
Damian Lillard: “What I can say is my intention in my heart has always been set on being in a Trail Blazers uniform for my entire career. Over time, you want to win it all. I want to win it all in a Trail Blazers uniform, but we all have to be making strides towards that.” pic.twitter.com/JOUerCmHIg
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) July 16, 2021
"If you look at our team as it is, I don't think you can say this is a championship team with a new coach," Dame said.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) July 16, 2021
Damian Lillard went on to say that he expects to be in a Blazers jersey when next season begins.
The NBA season is still going on, but the last few weeks have been troublesome for Portland. After firing Terry Stotts, the team settled on former NBA point guard Chauncey Billups as its next head coach.
Concerns about the 1997 rape allegation against Billups, when he was a member of the Boston Celtics, quickly came up. General manager Neil Olshey said that they “thoroughly” looked into the matter, and “treated them with the gravity that they deserve,” but it was later reported that the team never contacted the accuser or her attorney, and that the investigation “came together quickly.” Lillard, who endorsed Billups for the job when asked about Billups and other reported candidates, has since distanced himself from that hiring process.
We’ve seen speculation about the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, and New York Knicks, but everything with Lillard is up in the air until he actually demands a trade, or the team decides to go in that direction.