Damian Lillard has long stated his desire to bring a championship to the Portland Trail Blazers.
But after the Trail Blazers lost in the first round for the fourth time in the five years, in a series where Lillard put together a brilliant 55-point performance in Game 5 which featured a playoff record 12 3-pointers, frustrations have mounted.
After losing to the Nuggets in six games, Lillard called for changes this offseason.
“I mean, we didn’t win a championship, so obviously where we are now isn’t good enough,” he said. “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. We came up short against a team without their starting point guard and shooting guard.”
Lillard has doubled down on his commitment to Portland in the recent years. Even when approached to join a super-team, he shut the notion down.
“For me personally, that’s just not something I can do,” Lillard said last February. “I’d rather go out there and put my best foot forward and lose before I do that, because I know I can win if I do that.”
However, that doesn’t mean other teams won’t be waiting in the wings in case the six-time NBA All-Star has a change of heart.
“Sources say several NBA teams — including those in the top markets — are already intensely monitoring this situation in Portland and how it develops to look for an opening to make trade offers,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Jason Quick reported Saturday.
Stephen A. Smith added that as many as four teams including the Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers have all expressed interest in acquiring Lillard’s services
And we’d honestly be surprised if they weren’t calling.
In the series vs. the Nuggets, Lillard reminded the world why he is one of the best players in the league. He averaged 34.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 10.2 assists per game throughout the series while shooting at a 46.3 percent clip from the field and a 44.9 percent clip from deep
During the regular season, he posted averages of 28.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.
But Portland fans should feel rest assured that Lillard is loyal to the soil. A title in Portland doesn’t just mean something to him, it means everything to him, and he wants that in Rip City more than anywhere else.
Plus, the Trail Blazers star signed a four-year supermax deal in 2019, keeping him under contract in Portland through the 2024-25 season making a blockbuster trade for him very expensive.
Rumors of teams eager to be involved in a deal with Lillard are inevitable, especially after another tough postseason exit, but that doesn’t mean he’s going anywhere. During his All-Star availability this year, he explained why he has no intentions of playing anywhere else.
“I’m saying if everybody doesn’t think I can do it in Portland and we can’t win in Portland, what does it mean and what happens when we do?” Lillard said. “If we actually go and do it, then where does that put me? Where does that put my legacy? Where does that put my career?
“And that’s how I see it. I want that day to come.”