The Portland Trail Blazers will trek through another offseason after failing to make a deep playoff push. The conversation has quickly moved toward centering on star guard Damian Lillard‘s long-term future. Despite that, Lillard has yet to head one route that would stir up the entire situation in Portland.
Blazers head into another early offseason
The Blazers suffering their fourth first-round playoff exit in the last five years has shifted the dynamic around Lillard‘s future.
The star point guard is heading into the first year of his four-year, $176.2 million deal that runs through the 2024-25 season. Lillard is in the prime of his career with another campaign completed falling well short of NBA title contention.
Potential internal issues recently flared up after fan backlash regarding the Blazers’ head coach search. The disgruntlement arose concerning the team hiring a candidate Lillard publicly vouched for instead of another such as Mike D’Antoni or Becky Hammon.
With that in mind, Lillard has yet to take one significant action that would cause the fan base to panic.
Damian Lillard hasn’t voiced the 2 dreaded words that would send Blazers fans into a panic
The ever-growing rumor mill around Lillard‘s standing with the Blazers has created concern the situation can turn sideways.
The star point guard reportedly moved toward considering his long-term future in Portland due to the recent backlash from fans regarding the head coach search process. However, despite that, ESPN‘s Brian Windhorst recently stated on the Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast the 30-year-old hasn’t moved toward asking the team to trade him.
“I don’t believe, based on my conversations, that Dame is serious at this point about saying he wants out,” Windhorst said. “But I do think he was put in a very uncomfortable position…I do know that Damian Lillard got into an uncomfortable place because no matter what Dame wants to say or is being said behind the scenes, he was on the record saying he really liked the concept of Chauncey Billups being the coach. He also wanted Jason Kidd, but he was also interested in Chauncey.”
Lillard found himself in a tough spot with some angry Blazers fans via social media, but the experience didn’t push him to demand a trade request. Instead, he’s been the definition of loyal to Portland as he’s continued to stay committed to the franchise.
The six-time All-Star holds more than a valid reason to push for a trade, but his commintments remains unwavered. If Lillard winds up with another team, it will be because the Blazers moved on from him first. In the meantime, he is sticking firm with Portland moving forward.
Portland has more business to handle ahead
The Blazers are hoping to navigate through the offseason with a solidified future ahead.
The decision to hire Billups is a move the franchise hopes can help push them closer to title contention. Billups is a first-time head coach that the Blazers strongly believe can establish a strong relationship with Lillard.
Much more needs to be done aside from keeping Lillard happy as the franchise requires roster changes. CJ McCollum’s name has cropped as a potential trade piece to acquire another proven factor.
McCollum is set to begin his three-year, $100 million deal that will pay him roughly $30.8 million next season. His salary is on the high end of the spectrum, but he’s a proven talent that can provide an immediate offensive impact.
Ultimately, the Blazers will have their options to improve the roster, but it’s a matter of the franchise committing to massive changes.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.