Damian Lillard and Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen met last week without the knowledge of anyone else in the organization, Chris Haynes of ESPN reports. The meeting was held in private so the two could discuss the direction of the team and how to solve the root problems it currently faces. Per Haynes:
Lillard, who turns 28 on July 15, requested the meeting in part to reaffirm his commitment to the only professional franchise he has ever suited up for, but also to gain assurances that the organization was just as devoted to expeditiously crafting a title-contending team, sources said.
According to sources, the meeting was held without knowledge of anyone else in the organization. Allen notified the Trail Blazers’ basketball operations and business branch afterward.
In the weeks leading up to the meeting, Allen feared Lillard would request a trade, sources said, but a trade request was not made. The two-time All-Star made it clear, though, that he has championship aspirations and wanted to fulfill those lofty goals during the remaining years of his prime window.
Lillard has always remained steadfast in his commitment to Portland, so directly sharing his input with, and receiving transparency from, Allen could be a positive step for all involved. At the very least, it appears that he and Allen discussed issues that Trail Blazers faithful need addressed.
Allen acknowledged the roster imbalance, but questioned why the team had suffered through an inconsistent first half. Lillard issued a heartfelt vote of confidence for head coach Terry Stotts, sources said.
They also discussed players to target. The New York Times’ Marc Stein recently reported the Trail Blazers are one of the teams trying to engage in trade talks with the LA Clippers for big man DeAndre Jordan, but the Clippers haven’t had any serious offers.
In addition, Lillard sought an explanation from Allen as to why Will Barton was traded to Denver in February of 2015, sources said. Lillard made it known he didn’t agree with the move. Barton is a penetrating, spot-up shooter -- the type of player Portland could use on the wing.
The 2018 NBA Trade deadline is February 8. In light of this news, watch for the Trail Blazers to perhaps pursue aggressive solutions to their perceived problems. Lillard wants to be in Portland long-term; the team needs long-term planning.
You can read Haynes’ full article, here.