Damian Lillard and his agent Aaron Goodwin met with Portland Trail Blazers General Manager Joe Cronin this afternoon to discuss the direction of the team. When news of the meeting broke, fans and pundits questioned whether it was the first sign of an expected split between the franchise and their All-Star point guard. Not, so, said Cronin, following his discussion with Lillard. Instead Portland’s GM doubled down on the team’s commitment to building around Dame.
Portland media member Danny Marang conveyed Cronin’s statement via Twitter:
...from Trail Blazers GM Joe Cronin:
“I met with Dame and Aaron Goodwin this afternoon. We had a great dialogue. We remain committed to building a winner around Dame.”
Lillard will turn 33 before the season starts and has publicly stated that he would like to contend in the playoffs before his career ends. He’s also expressed disinterest in wading through a rebuild in Portland.
The Blazers drafted point guard Scoot Henderson with the third overall pick of the 2023 NBA Draft. Cronin expressed his admiration for Henderson and indicated that the team intends to retain its new star in waiting. Nearly every player the Blazers have traded for over the past year and a half is under 25 years of age. Nearly every player traded away has been a veteran.
The divergence between Lillard’s stance and Portland’s actions form the crucible from which rumors, and today’s meeting, have emerged. Now it’s simmering down once again.
If the team and Lillard decide to go separate ways, it won’t be today. At least by his public declarations, Cronin seems committed to making sure that day will never come.