Damian Lillard’s future with the Portland Trail Blazers has been the hottest topic around the NBA and the offseason hasn’t officially commenced yet.
Lillard, who will be entering his 10th NBA season this fall, has been placed in a tough situation. He wants to remain with the Blazers and is committed to the team and hopeful GM Neil Olshey and his team can put together a legitimate championship contender around him.
Where things get dicey is Lillard just turned 31-years-old, they have a new head coach in Chauncey Billups and it’s unclear if the team can make significant roster adjustments to bring them into the league’s elite.
On the latest episode of Talkin’ Blazers, Fran Fraschilla gave his thoughts on Lillard’s situation with the team.
“Even nice guys have to be a-holes sometimes,” Fraschilla said. “I think that’s where Dame is right now. I think he might have to be an a-hole and say, “I tried this. I’m loyal and this is always going to be my first home. It’s time. You rebuild and send me to a place where I can have a chance to win a title.’”
Everyone has an opinion on what Lillard could do. But what matters most is what Lillard himself thinks is best for him. Fraschilla and the ‘Talkin’ Blazers’ crew discussed how Kobe Bryant became frustrated with the Lakers in 2007 and requested a trade.
Bryant thought he was going to be dealt until Lakers management cooled him down and guaranteed they’d get him some help. The following season the team acquired Pau Gasol and would go on to three straight NBA Finals, which included winning two straight.
Lillard’s personality comes off as different from Bryant’s. Although the two are similar in being the franchise player and wanting to be put in a winning situation as they enter their early 30’s.
“You love the guy for his professionalism and loyalty,” Fraschilla said. “He’s got all the leverage. I don’t think anybody outside of Portland is going to think Dame Lillard is a bad guy because he wants to be in a new situation.”
The power is exactly in Lillard’s hands. It’s up to him how he wants to use it. He has an entire summer to use it, but he has to be honest with himself: can he win a championship in Portland? The popular answer will probably be no, but going against the grain has gotten Lillard this far.
Whether he stays or he’s dealt, Blazer fans will understand where Lillard’s coming from. The team has made the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons and has only made it out the first-round three times.
Maybe Fraschilla is on to something.