Former Weber State star Damian Lillard has been incredibly loyal to the Portland Trail Blazers since being drafted by them sixth overall in the 2012 draft as he’s become a perennial NBA All-Star, but according to a report from Yahoo’s Chris Haynes on Sunday, Lillard may ask to be traded by the franchise.
Ever since the Blazers’ season ended on June 3 and head coach Terry Stotts was fired the next day, there has been heavy speculation that Lillard could ask to be traded, and that has only increased in recent days as Portland has reportedly zeroed in on hiring Chauncey Billups to replace Stotts.
When Stotts was fired, Lillard went public in saying he would like to see the Blazers hire Jason Kidd or Billups to replace him (the Dallas Mavericks will reportedly hire Kidd), but since Portland has focused on Billups in recent days (a formal announcement of the new coach will come Tuesday), heavy attention has been put on the fact that Billups was accused of sexual assault in 1997.
Saturday on Twitter, Lillard responded to a few people who criticized him for wanting Billups as head coach.
Really? I was asked what coaches I like of the names I “heard” and I named them. Sorry I wasn’t aware of their history I didn’t read the news when I was 7/8yrs old. I don’t support Those things … but if this the route y’all wana come at me… say less https://t.co/N1GPkX3Ohd— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) June 26, 2021
Haynes reported Sunday that the Billups situation is one reason Lillard could ask for a trade, along with “concerns on whether a championship contender can be built.”
Despite what has occurred over the past few days, it stands to reason that the latter point is the larger issue, as Portland has only made it out of the first round of the playoffs three times in Lillard’s career, and two of those saw the Blazers get ousted in the second round. Portland has committed to building around a backcourt of Lillard and CJ McCollum, but the supporting cast has never been good enough (or at times healthy enough) to be a consistent contender.
This season, Lillard averaged 28.8 points per game, third in the NBA. He is a six-time All-Star who signed a supermax contract extension in 2019 that will kick in next season. According to Spotrac, it will see him get paid $39.3 million in the first year and and $48.8 the fourth and last year.