Amid chatter that he’d ask to be traded this offseason and then a report by Yahoo’s Chris Haynes in late June indicating that it could happen, former Weber State star Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers has seemingly put the talk to bed.
On Thursday, Lillard spoke to media from Las Vegas as Team USA, of which he is a part, prepares for the Tokyo Olympics starting in two weeks. He indicated he’s fully planning on playing for the Trail Blazers next season under first-year head coach Chauncey Billups (Terry Stotts was fired after nine seasons following another first-round playoff exit for Portland).
“I’m prepared to go in and do my job every year like I always do,” Lillard said. “Hopefully we make strides in a positive direction and we can become a better team with a new coach. That’s where I am with it.”
Lillard didn’t necessarily refute Haynes’ report (the two have a good relationship), but did say, “At this point, it’s a lot of things being said. Sometimes words being put in my mouth and I haven’t said anything.
“All of the people who have covered me since I’ve been in the NBA, they know that if I think something or have something to say, I’ll say it and I’m going to stand on it. It’s been a lot of talk. Nobody has heard what I’ve said or nobody has heard me say any of these things.”
The idea of Lillard being available surely would have had the general managers of the other 29 NBA teams lining up to speak with Portland GM Neil Olshey, but it was Lillard who said he has talked directly with Olshey regarding his feelings about the future.
“Anything that I have to say, I’m going to say it directly to Neil, and I’m going to address it directly with my team,” Lillard said. “I don’t really have nothing to say to you guys about it. Everything I need to say and feel has been said to Neil.”