Damian Lillard might be wavering in his commitment to the Portland Trail Blazers because of Portland’s inability to build a contender and the recent backlash against their’ plans to hire Chauncey Billups as their new head coach. Citing “league sources”, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports offered that suggestion in an article released today.
The Blazers bowed out of the 2021 NBA Playoffs in the first round, losing in six games to a Denver Nuggets team without star guard Jamal Murray, the fifth first-round exit in eight tries for Lillard.
Billups’ hiring has been accompanied by controversy due to a civil lawsuit charging him with a 1997 sexual assault, which he settled in 2000.
Haynes’ feature cites the social media storm accompanying Billups’ hiring and the Blazers’ inability to build a contender around their star player as factors leading to Lillard’s frustration.
The enormous backlash from the Portland Trail Blazers’ process to hire a new coach and his concerns on whether a championship contender can be built have become factors that may push the franchise player — Damian Lillard — out the door, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The story from Yahoo Sports goes on to explain that Lillard feels like he has been “attacked” in recent days for a decision that the article claims he had “no role in consummating”.
Lillard has remained loyal to Portland in large part due to the tremendous fan base. But over the last few days, he’s seen some of those same fans attacking him on social media for a pending coaching hire he played no part in consummating, sources said.
According to the story, Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey conducted the search and Lillard did not suggest any of the candidates that were interviewed. It also explained that Lillard did not have previous knowledge of the sexual assault allegations that Billups faced in the past.
The coaching search was conducted by Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations. None of the candidates who were interviewed were from suggestions from Lillard, sources said.
And although the All-NBA guard has a relationship with Billups as a coach, announcer and former player, he had no prior knowledge of the past sexual assault allegations against him from 1997.
The Blazers plan to announce their new coaching hire on Tuesday.
You can read the story from Haynes in its entirety at Yahoo Sports.
SiNow Los Angeles Clippers writer Farbod Esnaashari has tweeted that sources have informed him about “a growing rift” between Lillard and the Blazers, with Lillard “monitoring Portland’s future”.
Sources tell myself & @AdamNBorai: There is a growing rift between Portland Trail Blazers ownership, Damian Lillard, & the front office. Dame has been in touch with players on other teams this off-season & monitoring Portland's future before committing to anything. More to come.— Farbod Esnaashari (@Farbod_E) June 27, 2021