Damian Lillard had a verbal agreement with late Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen to facilitate a trade if Lillard desired, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. While discussing potential trade options for the Los Angeles Lakers, Pincus surmised an outside chance that Portland’s All-NBA point guard could fall on L.A.’s radar if things don’t go right for the Blazers. In doing so, he dropped information about the supposed pact:
Lillard had an understanding with the team’s late owner, Paul Allen, that if a time came when the guard wanted out, the franchise would try to facilitate a move to his liking. Lillard hasn’t made that request, and it’s unclear if that verbal agreement still holds.
In the very next breath, Pincus admits that the possibility such a move unlikely.
Given that Lillard is under contract until 2021, general manager Neil Olshey should feel no obligation to gift-wrap his best player for the Lakers to help James win titles in Los Angeles. Why would he?
Whether or not Lillard ever leaves the franchise or ends up in Los Angeles, the presence of such an agreement, if it existed, gives context for his relationship with the Blazers.
Pincus specializes in Lakers-centric coverage. He co-hosts a podcast, Hollywood Hoops, that focuses on basketball in Los Angeles. He has been writing about the Lakers’ search for additional stars since LeBron James signed with the team in the offseason.
In August, Pincus provided a look at potential targets for the Lakers. The list included Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins and Kemba Walker. Lillard was not included in that article.
Given the timeline surrounding Lillard’s well-publicized mid-January meeting with Allen, it is unclear when Pincus became aware of a potential pact between the two parties.
Lillard’s contract runs through the summer of 2021. He’s scheduled to make $28 million this season, $29.8 million next, and $31.6 million in 2020-21.