Damian Lillard trade rumors: Blazers star plans to request out of Portland in coming days, per report
Damian Lillard's days as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers may be numbered. The star guard plans to request a trade away from Portland in the coming days, according to Henry Abbott of True Hoop. Lillard, who just turned 31, signed a contract extension with the Blazers in 2019 and is under contract through the 2023-24 season. However, he apparently isn't happy with the state of the franchise, and in turn he's interested in finding a new home.
Now a source close to Lillard says that in the days to come, he plans to request a trade. If this is a surprise, you haven't been paying attention. As an organization, the Blazers have been melting since their playoff exit. Coach Terry Stotts was cut loose. Sources say billionaire Jody Allen plans to sell the team. The Blazers are prominent in trade rumors. A coaching search resulted in a debacle of a press conference. GM Neil Olshey may have cost himself his job by ramming through his preferred candidate evidently without taking past rape accusations seriously... Throughout, there have been clues that Lillard's die-hard Blazer loyalty may be ending.
Lillard is currently in Las Vegas with Team USA ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, and is expected to address his future with the Blazers on Friday, per Yahoo's Chris Haynes. In the meantime, he made it clear that he thinks the Blazers need to improve -- from top to bottom.
"I think that's the stage we're at as a team where we all, not just me, not just my teammates, not just our new coaching staff, the front office, everybody in this organization must look in the mirror because we've constantly come up short," Lillard said in an interview with Haynes. "We have to look in the mirror and say I have to be better because whatever it is we're doing is not working and it's not giving us the shot to compete on the level that we want to compete on."
For Lillard, Portland's loss to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.
"Our environment has always been great. We're not losing a lot, but we were eliminated by a shorthanded Denver team that I felt we should have beat," Lillard said. "I just walked away from that really disappointed. I was like, 'Man, this just isn't going to work.' We're not winning the championship, but we've got a successful organization. We're not a franchise that's just out here losing every year and getting divided. We have positive seasons; we just don't end up with a championship. So I feel like at this point, I basically made the decision that if you do what you've always done, you'll always be where you've always been."
It will be extremely interesting to hear what Lillard has to say about the reported trade request. If he denies the report, perhaps his relationship with the Blazers can still be salvaged. However, if he acknowledges it as true, the Blazers will have a very difficult decision to make. They don't technically have to trade Lillard if he requests a trade since he's still under contract for several more seasons, but if they don't, they run the risk of things in the locker room going south very quickly.
One thing is for certain. If Lillard is ultimately made available in trade talks, there will be no shortage of suitors.