Over the last several years, there has remained dialogue around Damian Lillard’s future with the Portland Trail Blazers. It hasn’t been from Lillard‘s own doing, but the overwhelming desire to see him play with a big-market franchise. Stephen A. Smith recently sparked that conversation to which the star guard wasted no time quickly firing back at the longtime sports media personality.
Stephen A. Smith says Damian Lillard needs to leave Portland
Over the years, Stephen A. Smith hasn’t been afraid to voice his opinion on any matter.
Smith has spewed out many strong takes concerning the NBA, including Damian Lillard’s future with the Trail Blazers. Last week, he ventured that route again, suggesting that Lillard should want out of Portland to play in a big market.
“Portland, I’m sorry, I apologize, but I wish [Lillard] was in another market,” Smith said. “It’s not about you. You’re a great fan base. It’s about us. It’s about basketball fans outside of Portland, Oregon. We’re being robbed of seeing Damian Lillard’s brilliance every single night.
“He’d be a starter in the All-Star game if he played in a big market, you know. Be honest. Dame needs to be in a big market…like my Knicks?”
Smith isn’t alone in this belief, as many view that Lillard is wasting his best days with the Trail Blazers. He is one of the league’s best players but hasn’t received the recognition and consistent success that his talent should warrant.
That said, it didn’t take long for Lillard to fire back at Smith for his latest comments.
Damian Lillard fires back a strong message toward Stephen A. Smith
Like Stephen A. Smith, Damian Lillard has used his elevated platform to voice his opinion on occasion.
Many of these instances have seen him defend his stance in wanting to play his entire career in Portland. During a recent interview with NBC Sports. Lillard subtly fired back at Smith by bringing light to the other side of the situation.
“I think, for every person that says you know I want to see him on the big stage, and I want to see him go to a bigger market and all these things, of course those things have pros, but nobody ever wants to think about the cons,” Lillard said. “If you take that step and it’s not what it seems to be, and it doesn’t work out, or an injury happens, and you haven’t established as much of a rapport with that team, and they chose one guy over the next guy and now you’re traded to a third team, things can fall apart.
“That may never happen, but it’s just a lot of things you can’t control. You got to consider both sides. But for me, it would have to come down to my team saying look, we’re going in a different direction, and we don’t want to hold you hostage, basically, and what route do you want to go.”
It’s quite clear that Lillard has given this matter plenty of thought as he could force his way toward that route. He also has a clear understanding of the potential massive fallout if things don’t work out.
All that has guided him toward building a more substantial commitment to the Trail Blazers. It may go against today’s NBA star player’s conventional thought process, but it’s his genuine and honest feeling toward the matter.
Full commitment to Portland remains intact
Beyond the dialogue that Stephen A. Smith continues to fuel around Damian Lillard, it’s clear that the star guard has no interest in leaving the Trail Blazers.
Lillard has continued to vocalize that notion through social media and various interviews. He has proven that much through his actions with his contract situation, as back in 2019, he agreed to a four-year, $196 supermax extension.
That decision came when he still had two years remaining on his five-year, $139.9 million deal. His upcoming contract will keep him with the franchise through at least the 2024-25 season. If he continues to play at an elite level, there is no reason to believe he won’t ink another extension to lengthen his tenure in Portland.
Lillard has also been on the record stating that bringing the Trail Blazers a championship would bring him tremendous satisfaction. The 30-year-old isn’t wavering in his commitment to Portland anytime soon, and no comment from Stephen A. Smith or any other media member will change that.