In the wake of the Portland Trail Blazers falling to another early playoff exit, star point guard Damian Lillard’s future remains a prominent discussion. Despite Lillard continually shooting down rumors, the overwhelming belief is that his commitment to the Trail Blazers will eventually wane. The star guard took his firm stance further by completely shutting down chatter concerning joining the Los Angeles Lakers.
Damian Lillard remains committed to the Blazers
Since the Trail Blazers bowed out of the first round of the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years, it immediately shifted the focus to Lillard’s future.
The 31-year-old saw yet another highly productive campaign in his prime pass by without serious NBA title contention. Despite the clear signs that another situation will be more prosperous, Lillard has stuck firm to wanting to play in Portland.
During his stint on the Olympic team, he continually shot down any notion that he’s leaning toward requesting a trade.
“A lot of things are being said,” Lillard said via The Wasington Post. “It hasn’t come from me. I haven’t made any firm decision on what my future will be, so it’s really no need for anybody else to speak for me.”
Lillard also didn’t air tremendous concern over the Trail Blazers’ lack of significant activity through free agency or the trade market. The front office added Ben McLemore, Cody Zeller, and Tony Snell on one-year deals while inking Norman Powell to a five-year, $90 million contract.
The six-time All-Star has taken it a step further to shut down lingering conversation concerning one trade scenario.
Damian Lillard bluntly shoots down Lakers trade rumors
Amid the constant chatter around Lillard’s future in Portland, the Lakers remained a fixture as a potential landing spot.
However, he hasn’t budged toward feeding into the notion as he’s kept a firm commitment to the Trail Blazers. During a recent interview with Complex News, he talked about responding to a fan on Twitter that he would bet $1 million that he wouldn’t end up on the Lakers’ roster before next season.
“He said ‘I would bet anybody that when the season starts, Dame’s going to be playing for the Lakers,’” Lillard said. “And the Lakers just traded for Russell Westbrook, so I’m not going to play for the Lakers. We play the same position, so (I was) like bet a million.”
Lillard isn’t wrong as the Lakers moved forward to trade for Russell Westbrook to take the place Lillard would have occupied. If All-Star pushed for a trade, Los Angeles would have made a strong effort to acquire him to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Since Lillard elected to stay committed to the Trail Blazers, it quickly pushed the Lakers to consider other options. Westbrook became available, leading to his arrival to Los Angeles. In other words, Lillard is stating the obvious that some Lakers fans still can’t face reality.
Lakers are moving forward confidently with Russell Westbrook
The Lakers are moving full steam ahead with Westbrook as potentially a long-term fixture.
Since his arrival, questions remain concerning his fit alongside James as the two share similar playing styles as ball-dominant players. Westbrook quickly chilled the doubts during his introductory press conference, voicing that he is willing to do whatever it takes to make it work in Los Angeles.
“As you know, LeBron is one of the best players to play this game,” Westbrook said. “His ability to do everything on the floor allows me to just figure it out. I’m coming to a championship-caliber team, and my job is to make sure I am able to make his game easy for him and I’ll find ways to do that throughout the game.
“As it pertains to ball handling and all that, it really doesn’t matter. There are many different ways you can impact the game without having the ball in your hands. I have been able to do that for many years. I will figure it out.”
The Lakers present possibly his best opportunity to vie for an NBA title, making it more impingent on him to adjust his game. Time will tell what unfolds ahead, but Westbrook certainly already possesses the right mental approach.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.