Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has become a popular name when looking at players around the league to join LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. However, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN said “he’s not at that level” of asking Portland’s front office for a trade on “ESPNLA Mornings with Keyshawn, Jorge & LZ” (transcription via Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll):
“I’ve been hearing that in the wind for several months now, but the problem with that is, — and this is why you’re seeing passive-aggressive, LeBron-style subtweeting — he has a lot of years left on his deal and he’s beloved in the city of Portland and he’s a leader on that team, so I really think the only way that would ever become a real threat is if he asked for it publicly. Like if he actually went to the Trail Blazers ownership and said ‘I don’t want to be here anymore, I want to be traded.’
“He has not done that, so far all you’ve seen is some subtweeting, and some frustration expressed behind the scenes. But he’s not at that level.”
ESPNLosAngeles later posted a quote from Shelburne’s appearance that’s made to grab headlines about Lillard leaving, but Shelburne followed up and simultaneously shot down Lillard trade talk:
And then I said he’s got a lot of time left on his deal... no way he’d push his way out...and no fan base hates the Lakers more than Portland so I don’t see anything happening. Sheesh.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 6, 2018
This follows previous comments by Shelburne on ESPN’s “The Jump” Thursday:
“I think they could and there would be an interest level there, the problem is he’s so well-regarded in the Portland community.”
ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith claimed Thursday Lillard would be interested in going to the Lakers or New York Knicks if the Blazers don’t improve, with the franchise guard preferring to stay in Portland.