Report: Damian Lillard could leave Trail Blazers due to blowback over Chauncey Billups hire
As backlash mounts over the Trail Blazers’ decision to hire Chauncey Billups as coach, Damian Lillard has been defensive on Twitter:
Really? I was asked what coaches I like of the names I “heard” and I named them. Sorry I wasn’t aware of their history I didn’t read the news when I was 7/8yrs old. I don’t support Those things … but if this the route y’all wana come at me… say less https://t.co/N1GPkX3Ohd— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) June 26, 2021
Could Lillard go on the offensive, even doing something as drastic as requesting a trade?Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
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 tell Yahoo Sports.
Lillard has remained loyal to Portland in large 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.
It seems inaccurate to say Lillard played no role in the Trail Blazers hiring Billups. Lillard publicly endorsed Billups’ candidacy. Lillard also reportedly joined Billups’ virtual job interview.
But it wasn’t Lillard’s responsibility to investigate a 1997 rape accusation against Billups.
Billups denied it and was never charged criminally. He settled a civil suit. Decades later, it’s difficult to evaluate properly.
This saga also unfolds as Lillard is reportedly feeling antsy. Portland lost in the first round this year despite his on-court heroics. With Lillard already in place, the Trail Blazers will have a tough time clearing cap space or getting the high draft picks usually necessary to significantly improve the roster.
For now, this feels like a warning shot by a player who feels increasingly frustrated.