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The latest twists and turns in the Damian Lillard trade drama

Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale (23) sticks his hand in front of Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0)
Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale (23) sticks his hand in front of Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) as the Utah Jazz and the Portland Trail Blazers play an NBA basketball game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Portland won 105-98.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Will he stay or will he ask to go?

The question about whether or not Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard will request to be traded by the franchise this offseason had multiple twists and turns on Friday, which came after Lillard seemed to indicate last week that he would not seek a trade despite chatter and reporting over the last six weeks that he could, and even would, do so.

On Friday morning, TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott reported that “in the days to come, (Lillard) plans to request a trade.” In the afternoon, however, Lillard met with media and refuted Abbott’s report, sort of.

“Right now I’m not sure what I’m going to do. What I can say is my intentions and my heart has always been set on being in a Trail Blazers uniform for my entire career,” Lillard said from Las Vegas, where he is preparing for the Olympics, “but I think over time, you want to win it all, and I want to win it all in a Trail Blazers uniform but we all have to be making strides toward that.”

Abbott’s report came days after an investigation by Oregon Public Broadcasting found that the Trail Blazers did not properly investigate a 1997 rape allegation against Chauncey Billups, whom the franchise hired as its new head coach last month.

The hire has been widely criticized because of the allegation, with Lillard saying he was not aware of it when he endorsed Billups’ candidacy for the job after former coach Terry Stotts was fired.

The genesis of the talk about Lillard potentially wanting to be traded came after the Blazers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Denver Nuggets.