Something interesting happened last night during the Portland Trail Blazers disappointing 113-103 loss to the shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers. Twice during the game, Philadelphia fans at the Wells Fargo Center serenaded Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard with chants of “We want Lillard!”
The chants caught the attention of SiriusXM NBA Radio program, “The Starting Lineup,” hosted by Frank Isola and former NBA player Brian Scalabrine. Isola said the reception from Philadelphia fans may make Lillard want a future in a 76ers jersey.
If you’re Damian Lillard, you’re struggling this season, your team is struggling and you got the crowd in notoriously rough Philadelphia chanting your name — I’m not saying it means he wakes up today and says, ‘I want to go to Philadelphia,’ but that has to make an impression on him, right?
Scalabrine took Isola’s speculation a step further and said he thinks Lillard did wake up today with the realization that he needs to leave Portland. Scalabrine said the superstar pairing with Embiid should entice Lillard, but also the talent of Philadelphia’s bench, which took down a full-strength Blazers squad yesterday without star players Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Ben Simmons.
I definitely think that is the seed planting in Lillard’s mind and maybe enough to get this ball rolling. I don’t know, Portland’s struggles could change right away. Sometimes they start off slow and get on a roll. But for right now, Damian Lillard has to be thinking, ‘Man, I wouldn’t mind going to Philadelphia and playing with a guy like Embiid and playing in that environment.
Scalabrine then went on to make the case for Portland to commit to a full rebuild, similar to how Oklahoma City rebuilt after trading away Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers. He said the Blazers could form the franchise around young talent like shooting guard Anfernee Simons with a Lillard-for-Simmons trade that involves a boatload of first-round draft picks. If Simmons isn’t the guy Portland wants to include in their future, Scalabrine said they could flip him for even more first-round picks.
I don’t understand why Portland has not hit the reset button on this. This team is going to turn around and win a championship? No way.
After an offseason of continuous media speculation about Lillard’s future with the Blazers, he has repeatedly said he is committed to staying in Portland. He did so again last night when asked about the Philly chants.
However, last night’s puzzling loss, compounded with the recruitment tactics displayed from the Philadelphia faithful, has caused the national buzz around Lillard’s trade status to pick up once again.
You can listen to the full radio program here. The discussion about Lillard begins at the 18:28 mark.