Lillard said he believes Trail Blazers roster can quickly be flipped into contender
Is that possible? Likely? Damian Lillard believes it is, he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports in a lengthy interview, adding there is “no way” next season’s Portland team ends up in the same position as this season’s.
Haynes asked if winning a title in Portland was still Lillard’s goal.
There are front offices around the league watching and wondering how long Lillard will stay committed to this plan if his fast rebuild stalls out.
Which could happen — pulling off this high-speed rebuild will be difficult. At best. The biggest name free agents — Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, Kyrie Irving — are expected to stay with their current teams (despite Miami coveting Beal). The Trail Blazers plan to re-sign Anfernee Simons, and there are rumors they will try to poach Pistons’ forward Jerami Grant. Those two would make the Trail Blazers better, but nowhere near a contender in a West that will come back deeper and better next season (the Clippers and Nuggets will be healthy, to start). Lillard has some recruiting to do, and Portland will need one of those out-of-nowhere NBA summer blockbusters the league is known for to make that next leap.
Never say never, especially if a pain-free Lillard can return to his All-NBA form, but the Trail Blazers have a lot of work to do.
The important thing is Lillard has bought in.