Want to see Damian Lillard play for a team other than the Portland Trail Blazers? ‘Start the petition,’ he says
Lillard has spent his entire NBA career with the Trail Blazers, becoming arguably the greatest player in the franchise’s history
With the Portland Trail Blazers’ luck in the recently conducted NBA draft lottery — Portland jumped from the No. 5 pick to No. 3 — there have been major discussions about what they should do with that pick.
All-Star guard Damian Lillard, fresh off a career-best season and inclusion on a seventh All-NBA team, is still in the prime of his career at 32 (nearly 33), but the Blazers haven’t been competitive in two seasons.
Because of that, there have been calls for Portland to trade the No. 3 pick in an effort to improve the team in the short term.
It is something Lillard himself has stated that he wants, more or less.
“I’m just not interested in that. That’s not a secret,” Lillard told The Athletic’s Jason Quick in April when asked about the team adding another young player. “I want a chance to go for it.”
Because of Lillard’s standing in Portland — he is viewed as one of, if not the, greatest players in franchise history — most assume the Trail Blazers will indeed trade the pick and perhaps even Shaedon Sharpe, their 2022 lottery pick who had an excellent rookie season.
Per ESPN’s Zach Lowe, many executives around the league expect the Blazers to heavily shop the No. 3 overall pick in an attempt to land a veteran piece next to Lillard.
A few fans have argued, though, that the Blazers should keep the No. 3 pick — the draft is largely considered a three-player draft with Victor Wembenyama, Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller all projecting as future All-Stars — and instead trade Lillard, kicking off a major rebuild for the franchise.
To that idea, Lillard wrote on social media Thursday, “If the fans wana trade me … start the petition and send it in.”
In a recent episode of the “Lowe Post Podcast,” Lowe and fellow ESPN writer Tim MacMahon speculated that there will be movement by some of the league’s more high-profile stars in coming seasons, in part due to the league’s new collective bargaining agreement.
Some of the stars Lowe and MacMahon talked about potentially being on the trade market in the near future are Philadelphia 76ers center — and reigning league MVP — Joel Embiid, Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic, Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns and yes, Lillard.
“I don’t know what is going to happen. ... These teams with assets are looking around,” Lowe said, before he and MacMahon both questioned Lillard’s continued commitment to the Blazers.
That sentiment falls in line with what one league executive told Heavy Sports.
“They’re not going to trade him on their own. He is going to have to come to them and say, ‘OK, it is time, let’s move on.’ They’re not just going to ship him out to get rid of him. He has shown them loyalty and they’re going to do the same. But more and more, there is a bigger chance he will ask out. He could very well be the focal point of all talk in the next couple months.”