Rip City woke up on Friday to the news they feared most: Damian Lillard was requesting a trade... or so they were told.
Reports surfaced via Henry Abbott of True Hoops that, per his sources, Dame was planning to request to play elsewhere.
Luckily for Blazers fans, Lillard was part of Team USA's media availability on Friday afternoon where he addressed the rumors directly.
"I woke up to those reports, a lot of people reaching out to me, but it's not true."
A formal trade request did not come from Dame, but he did make it loud and clear that he wants things in Portland to change, and it starts with the roster.
The team, as it stands, just isn't built for a championship. That was made apparent when a fully healthy Trail Blazers squad (with the exception of Zach Collins) fell to the injury-depleted Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.
The result of the early playoff exit, the second first-round exit in as many seasons, resulted in the firing of longtime head coach Terry Stotts.
Chauncey Billups is now the coach calling the shots for Portland, but the result might be much the same if the roster isn't drastically overhauled.
Lillard said the team, front office included, needs to "be more urgent about what our next step is and how we move forward." Everyone needs to look in the mirror, reflect on what they can do better, and bring it to the table.
"We've made the playoffs all these years in a row. We're not a bad team, we're a winning team. We're in the playoffs every year. We got a great environment. We're in a great city...it's a lot of positives but I just think we've reached that point where it's like, 'ok but it's not enough.' Do we actually want to win it all? Is that what we're shooting for. We got to do things to show that. We got to put action behind that desire to win at that level."
While Dame never requested a trade he did, more than once, state that his future is uncertain. Reading between the lines it's clear Dame wants to win in Portland. It's also clear that Dame wants massive change around him to allow that to happen. Dame may not want out right this moment, but if that change doesn't come then the Trail Blazers future might not have Dame in it.
"If you look at our team as it is going into next season, I don't see how you can say this is a championship team."
"My intentions and my heart has always been set on being in a Trail Blazers uniform for my entire career... over time you want to win it all and I want to win it all in a Trail Blazers uniform but we all have to be making strides towards that."
Dame did state that he will be in a Trail Blazers uniform to start the season. From there, the ball is in the court of Neil Olshey and the Blazers front office. Lillard turned 31 on Thursday. He knows the window is still open but it's going to close soon. The time is now for the Blazers to make their move. If they don't, they might force the franchise's greatest player out the door.