Regardless of a recent two-game winning streak, the Trail Blazers appear ready to enter the Western Conference Playoffs as pretenders instead of legitimate contenders. That reality took center stage in a feature from Yahoo Sports NBA Insider Chris Haynes on Friday. Haynes, who has an established relationship with star guard Damian Lillard, detailed how poor roster construction has put Lillard’s prime years in jeopardy of falling short of a title.
After highlighting Lillard’s continued loyalty to the Blazers, Haynes delivered a blunt assessment of organization’s current relationship with its star player.
His temperament and continued success on the court are akin to that of a modern-day Tim Duncan, but this Trail Blazers squad looks as if it’s merely a postseason tuneup for authentic championship contenders.
Lillard must take the onus and recognize the pattern: his inaction has led to inaction. He has been a constant professional and in return, it’s made central figures throughout the organization comfortable.
Haynes expanded on that theme by circling back to the Blazers’ inability to fill the void that was created by LaMarcus Aldridge’s departure in the summer of 2015.
In a superteam era, no team is routinely competing for a championship with only one All-Star. The last time Lillard played with a player who made the All-Star team was LaMarcus Aldridge in 2015.
Both of those items led to a poignant conclusion from Haynes:
Simply put, Lillard has not received the help he needs to win a title in this era. As he turns 31 this summer and considering all he’s done for the franchise, a more aggressive, risky approach is needed in order to pair him with another bona fide star.
No one has ever questioned the fight in Lillard. But it is fair to ask if he’s been fighting the good fight alone.
Lillard, who was selected by the Blazers with No. 6 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, is under contract through the 2024-25 season. The final year of his current deal features a player option. This season, Lillard is averaging 28.2 points and 7.4 assists per game. The Blazers are currently sitting at No. 7 in the Western Conference standings with a 34-28 record.
Given the relationship between Haynes and Lillard, this should be tabbed as a must-read feature. You check out the full story from Haynes at Yahoo Sports.