NBA free agency opened with Damian Lillard halfway around the world, which made his unique situation - one where no one is completely sure whether or not he wants out of Portland - even more confusing.
But the Blazers' underwhelming first week of free agency has offered some more clarity to what Lillard thinks of his current situation in Portland... and, all things considered, it's good news for Sixers fans still pining after a Lillard trade.
The superstar guard and Team USA member spoke with reporters in a media availability in Tokyo on Friday, and he didn't hide his concerns over what the Blazers' front office was able to accomplish in free agency. Portland brought back Norman Powell on a five-year, $90 million deal but otherwise was pretty quiet, locking up Cody Zeller and Tony Snell on one-year deals.
Not exactly the kind of stuff Lillard was hoping for, and he admitted as much:
"Obviously, this go around, we wasn’t able to go out there and just get some of the guys that we would have liked..."
I'd say that's pretty to the point!
Lillard later said he didn't think the Blazers were currently a championship team, according to The Athletic's Joe Vardon, not exactly a vote of confidence from your superstar face of the franchise.
And this line also stuck out to me:
"I haven't made any firm decision on what my future will be."
Lillard has repeatedly said he expects to be a Blazer next year and would like to remain in Portland, but that statement doesn't jibe at all with the "I want to stay here" message. If he hasn't made a decision on his future... that leaves the door open for a trade request, or at least a desire to be elsewhere. And a desire to be elsewhere was at least not minimized by Portland's inability to improve in the first few days of free agency.
Basically: Lillard sounds unhappy with the Blazers' last five days, and admitted he's not certain what his basketball future holds. That's music to the Sixers' ears.
It'll be very interesting to see if anything changes when Lillard returns from Tokyo.