Smith wants to see Lillard play on the NBA’s biggest stage since the guard is must-see TV with the ball in his hands. Over the past few years, Lillard has been shooting the ball from nearly half-court regularly and scoring 50 points with relative ease.
Stephen A. Smith recently joined Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams, and Zubin Mehenti on ESPN to talk about Damian Lillard’s title hopes, and his comment won’t sit well with Blazers fans.
Stephen A. Smith says Damian Lillard will need to leave the Blazers to win a title
Stephen A. Smith believes Damian Lillard needs to leave the Blazers to win an NBA title. The ESPN personality claims he’s told the All-Star guard this in the past.
“Leaving Portland. It’s very simple to me,” Smith said. “In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve told Damian Lillard this. I’ve told CJ McCollum this. In order for them to win a title, one of them is going to have to be moved for a big-time asset.”
The Blazers drafted Lillard with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. The former Rookie of the Year has career averages of 24.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.6 assists and has only missed the playoffs once in his career.
The closest Lillard has gotten to the NBA Finals was in 2019 when he guided the Blazers to the Western Conference Finals. Portland got swept by the Golden State Warriors after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets in the first two rounds.
Stephen A. Smit would love to see Damian Lillard play in a big market city such as New York or LA. However, the odds of that happening are very low.
Damian Lillard wants to retire with the Blazers
Damian Lillard has said over a dozen times that he wants to retire with the Blazers. During a recent interview with Fred Katz and Jason Quick of The Athletic, Lillard talked about how he and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal are in the same boat.
“He has the same feeling about it as I have: I just don’t want to go elsewhere,” Lillard said. “This is our ninth year. We’ve been so invested in this to where it’s like, this is what it is. This is where I want to get it done. And I’m sure he feels that same way.”
Pundits like Stephen A. Smith don’t think Lillard and Beal are making the right decision by staying with the team that drafted them. While loyalty is a great trait to have, the odds of Lillard and Beal winning a title in Portland and Washington, respectively, are next to none.
However, Damian Lillard has no plans to request a trade from the Blazers. He signed a four-year, $176.3 million extension in 2019 that runs through the 2024-25 campaign.
Whether he wins a title or not, Dame Dolla will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer
Ring culture has ruined how we talk about the NBA. Just because a player doesn’t win a ring doesn’t mean they aren’t an all-time great.
Whether he wins a title or not, Damian Lillard will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and get his No. 0 jersey retired by the Blazers. He’s a six-time All-Star and one of the greatest 3-point shooters and scorers in NBA history.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.