Trail Blazers

CJ McCollum on Damian Lillard’s future: ‘I think he wants to be in Portland’

Trail Blazers

This Portland Trail Blazers season didn’t end as anyone had hoped.

Not for the fans.

Not for the organization.

And certainly not for Damian Lillard.  

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Just moments after the Blazers fell in six games to the Denver Nuggets to exit in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs for the fourth time in five years, the Trail Blazers superstar vented his frustrations.

"I don't know what a shakeup looks like or what changes will be made or could be made, but obviously as is, it wasn't good enough,” he said. “We came up short against a team without their starting point guard and shooting guard (Will Barton and Jamal Murray). ... Obviously, where we are isn't good enough to win a championship if it's not good enough to get out of a first-round series with two of their best three or four players not on the floor."  

 

A short few hours later, Lillard took to social media with a cryptic Nipsey Hussle quote—one that has people talking about his future in Portland.

“How long should I stay dedicated? How long til opportunity meet preparation?” Lillard wrote.

Since then, as many as six to seven teams have called to ask about Lillard’s availability, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith. The Athletic reported “several NBA teams” are monitoring Lillard’s situation.

While the six-time All-Star has been quiet since another disappointing first-round exit, his backcourt mate CJ McCollum opened up about the speculation involving Lillard and his uncertain future.

“Me and Dame talk every day, or every other day, and I have a good understanding of how he is as a person, what he’s done for our community, what he’s done on the basketball court obviously speaks for itself, I think he’s going to do what’s best for himself and his family,” McCollum said on his Pull Up podcast.

I think he wants to be in Portland, obviously. He’s said that. He’s gone on the record saying that he wants to be here and wants to continue to figure out ways to move towards a championship, but I can’t speak for him.

- CJ McCollum on Damian Lillard

For years, Lillard has maintained that he wants to end his career in Portland. When approached to join super teams, Lillard has refused to chase a ring elsewhere. The 30-year-old has been a driving force behind Portland’s success. This year, he averaged 28.8 points and 7.5 assists while converting on 39.1 of his three-point attempts on a career-high 10.5 attempts per contest.

There have been no indications that Lillard wants to leave Portland, yet there will always be people trying to concoct hypothetical trade scenarios for the Blazers star because he’s one of the league’s best.

But Portland hasn’t gone to the Western Conference Finals since 2019, and despite eight-consecutive playoff berths, a first-round exit isn’t good enough for Lillard. It isn’t good enough for anyone in Portland and he deserves to feel frustrated.

 

“I think he is upset with the way the season ended, just as I am, just as the rest of the organization, as the rest of the fanbase is and I think that’s all I can kind of say to that point,” McCollum added.