Ready for a possible Damian Lillard sweepstakes to take centerstage of the NBA off-season?
After a second consecutive losing season for the Portland Trail Blazers and recent remarks by the franchise star about an urgent need to compete, that nightmare will likely become reality once the playoffs wrap.
But unless Lillard requests a move, Portland won’t entertain trading the seven-time All-Star, according to an anonymous NBA executive who spoke with Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports.
“They’re not going to trade him on their own. He is going to have to come to them and say, ‘OK, it is time, let’s move on,’” one NBA executive told Heavy Sports. “They’re not just going to ship him out to get rid of him. He has shown them loyalty and they’re going to do the same. But more and more, there is a bigger chance he will ask out. He could very well be the focal point of all talk in the next couple months.”
Since Portland’s disappointing 2022-23 season ended on April 9, Lillard has clearly said he has no interest in a lengthy rebuilding process and wants Portland to quickly and aggressively build a contender around him. He said that message at his season exit interview, in a television interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on Wednesday and again during a podcast with NBA insider Chris Haynes on Friday. Blazers General Manager Joe Cronin and Head Coach Chauncey Billups said that urgent desire to compete with Lillard was reciprocal during their exit interviews.
But it appears NBA franchises, like sharks circling water, are standing by in hopes Portland can’t satisfy Lillard with the right moves. In Deveney’s article, NBA executives name the teams that would jump at the chance to trade for Lillard and estimate possible price points.
You can read Deveney’s full piece here.