Damian Lillard trade rumors: Warriors package tough to beat if Blazers are looking for full rebuild

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CBS Sports 18 July, 2021 - 09:44am 43 views

What team is Damian Lillard on?

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, after a practice with Team USA as they prepare for the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, took questions from the media regarding a report that he had asked to be traded. Trailblazers.comLillard Addresses Trade Rumors, His Future In Portland After Practice With USA Basketball | Portland Trail Blazers

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Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard denies making trade request, hopes for big changes

ESPN 17 July, 2021 - 08:00pm

LAS VEGAS -- Damian Lillard denied a report that he was soon to ask for a trade away from the Portland Trail Blazers but expressed that he's conflicted on the matter and is hoping big changes take him off the fence.

"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 after Team USA practice Friday at UNLV. "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."

Earlier Friday, basketball website TrueHoop reported Lillard would ask for a trade in the near future. Lillard has been having conversations about the Blazers' offseason plans with team governor Jody Allen and general manager Neil Olshey. Lillard plans to have dinner in Vegas with Olshey and new Blazers coach Chauncey Billups later on Friday, a meeting that had been previously scheduled.

Lillard, who is under contract until 2024, has made it clear what his message to management is. Though the team has made the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons, the Blazers have been eliminated in the first round in four of the past five years. After turning 31 on Thursday, Lillard is making it known he isn't OK with the status quo.

"The best way to put it is to be more urgent about what our next step is and how we move forward," Lillard said. "We're not a bad team; we're a winning team. We've got a great environment, we've got a great city, we've got great fans, there's a lot of positives.

"I just think we've reached that point where it's like, OK, it's not enough. Do we actually want to win it all? Is that what we're shooting for? We've got to do things to show that. We've got to put action behind that. That desire to win at that level -- that's been my only thing this entire time."

That sentiment and the uncertain way the Blazers will react to it has led rival teams to watch Lillard's movements and words closely. This led to a frenzy on Friday when another report about his situation hit social media.

The star point guard is leaving for Tokyo for three weeks with Team USA on Monday. While he is away, the Blazers will execute the draft, though they currently have no picks, and free agency. Which makes the meeting with Olshey and Billups potentially important.

Lillard said he expects to be in a Blazers uniform next season but also left himself a lot of wiggle room. "I haven't made any firm decision on what my future will be," he said. "A lot of things go into it."

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While Lillard clarified that he expects to remain a Blazer next season, he made numerous comments that indicated his dissatisfaction with their current roster. Lillard, who just recently turned 31, is one of the best players in the NBA and is in the prime of his career. Dame has spent nine seasons with the Portland Trailblazers, and has seemingly reached a point in his career where pursuing a championship is his unrivaled top priority. Dame made that clear on Friday when he stated that a new coach is not going to take this current Blazers roster to a championship level, essentially putting pressure on Portland's management to improve their roster if they want to keep him.

With the Portland Trailblazers operating with limited cap space and the restrictions that come with being in a small market, many believe that the team will be unable to build a roster that Dame will be satisfied with. If Lillard were to get traded, DraftKings has the Lakers with +1600 odds to land Dame, and the Clippers right behind them at +1800. These are the 7th and 8th best odds respectively, trailing the Knicks, 76ers, Warriors, Heat, Mavericks, and Celtics.

With both LA teams being a seemingly perfect basketball fit for Lillard, why are both of their odds so low? While star players of Dame's caliber often have the leverage on where they would like to be traded to, the organization ultimately has the final say. For this reason, it is hard to imagine the Clippers or Lakers being able to put together a trade package for Lillard that the Portland Trailblazers would even consider.

Unless Damian Lillard comes out and says he wants to be traded to Los Angeles and nowhere else, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where Dame starts next season in Staples Center.

Damian Lillard

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