The Blazers’ current struggles and unknown path forward has urged Bleacher Report to write (yet another) article that proposes the idea of Lillard requesting a trade.
While he hasn’t expressed it publicly, Lillard should be furious.
Again he’s forced to watch as those competing for the same eight playoff spots in the West get better. The Phoenix Suns with Kevin Durant. The Dallas Mavericks with Kyrie Irving. The Los Angeles Lakers with D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Mo Bamba and Rui Hachimura.
So many other teams are better built to win now, while franchises like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs may soon pass Portland up with their collection of young talent, future draft picks or both.
Portland is in a very peculiar position. The team isn’t good enough to compete for a top spot in the conference, but isn’t weak enough to command a top pick in this year’s draft. Essentially, the team is in no man’s land.
By dumping Lillard, there’s a proverbial waving of the white flag. It makes sense from a national media perspective. But, from a local one, Lillard has made it crystal clear that he isn’t leaving Portland, to the point where he signed an extension this summer that keeps him in Rip City until 2027. That’s four more seasons after this one.
The Blazers could acquire a king’s ransom by trading Lillard, but part of building a championship is finding a star, and Portland already has that. On top of that, Portland has a star with unwavering loyalty.
If Lillard wanted a trade, he would have asked and gotten on by now. It would have to take some incredible shift between Lillard and the front office for this trade request that everyone wants outside of Portland to be triggered, but it’s highly unlikely that this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.