Damian Lillard‘s future remains a prominent question since the Portland Trail Blazers suffered another early playoff exit. Lillard has yet to waver toward wanting out, but the clock is ticking in Portland. The star point guard may have now hinted at the All-Star talent he would like the Blazers to pursue.
Damian Lillard’s Blazers future remains in question
For the fourth time in the last five years, the Blazers fell to a first-round playoff exit.
The loss not only sent Portland into the offseason much sooner than desired, but the franchise is dealing with lingering questions concerning their star point guard’s future. Lillard hasn’t privately or publicly aired any sentiment suggesting he wants out.
At the same time, it’s become increasingly more difficult to believe that his patience with the situation has grown stronger. It’s led him to have to shoot down rumors concerning a desire to play elsewhere.
“I woke up to those reports,’’ Lillard said back in July via the New York Post. “It’s not true. I said the last time I spoke to you guys, a lot of things are being said that’s not coming from me. It’s not true. I also said I haven’t made any firm decision on what my future will be. There’s no need for anybody else to speak for me.
The 31-year-old is coming off another highly productive campaign, where he finished third averaging 28.8 points and 7.5 assists while shooting 45.1% from the floor and 39.1% from beyond the arc. However, it featured the Blazers fall well short of NBA title contention. His commitment to Portland remains unwavering, but it’s another year in his prime wasted without competing for a championship.
Lillard is entering the first year of his four-year, $176.2 million deal that runs through the 2024-25 season. It includes a $48.7 million player option for the final year. As training camp nears closer, he may have suggested the star talent he wants the Blazers to pursue.
Damian Lillard may have hinted at the All-Star he wants the Blazers to pursue
Lillard hasn’t shifted toward airing a desire to want out of Portland, but he’s found other ways to potentially suggest he desires roster changes.
It may only be a tweet, but it shows that Lillard would be intrigued by the idea of playing alongside Simmons. The 25-year-old is currently dealing with an uncertain future with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Since the 76ers bowed out of the playoffs, the team has attempted to move him. However, his decreased value has prevented the organization from garnering any serious trade offers.
Philadelphia reportedly wants an All-Star talent in return, but no team has appeased that desired package. Meanwhile, Simmons recently met with the front office to voice that he wants out and will not show up to training camp.
All that firmly places Simmons in the open market, leaving the Blazers and other teams to present feasible trade packages. Portland could offer CJ McCollum, but the 76ers may only have eyes for Lillard to pair alongside Joel Embiid. Meanwhile, a report recently surfaced that there are concerns with Lillard and Simmons fit playing alongside each other.
Nonetheless, the scenario of Simmons ending up with the Blazers sits on the table.
Blazers control the future that lies ahead
The Blazars are well aware of the situation that lies before them.
Portland hasn’t been entirely silent this offseason by first parting ways with longtime head coach Terry Stotts to hire first-time head coach Chauncey Billups. The team also re-signed Norman Powell to a five-year, $90 million deal while adding Ben McLemore, Cody Zeller, and Tony Snell on one-year contracts.
Aside from the Powell move, the Blazers haven’t made any considerable roster changes. The front office undoubtedly wants Lillard to remain the franchise centerpiece. Still, if the team suffers another early playoff exit, it’s hard to imagine the star guard maintaining an unshakeable commitment.
Ultimately, the pressure is on the Blazers to construct a roster that will lead Lillard to believe Portland can win an NBA title.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.