Damian Lillard has made his demands known. No, he hasn’t requested a trade out of Portland — at least yet. Although his recent cryptic Instagram post hints at such an outcome soon becoming a possibility. Instead, what Lillard has done is publically declare which head coach he’d prefer to play under next season. A desire which Boston Sports Journals’ John Karalis believes is “great news” for the Boston Celtics and their fanbase.
“Jason Kidd is the guy I want,” Lillard adamantly informed Yahoo Sports. NBA insider Chris Haynes also added that “the 30-year-old superstar is fixated on competing for a championship and is expected to be more vocal with his requests moving forward.”
Karalis’ tweet can be deciphered in one of two ways — dodging a bullet of hiring Kidd, or adding Kidd to increase their chances of landing Lillard in a hypothetical trade. Lillard’s comments come on the heels of Portland relieving Terry Stotts of his coaching duties. In other words, the six-time All-Star was more likely informing the Trail Blazers that the ball was in their court, rather than voicing his preferences to potential trade suitors such as the Celtics.
However, things may have just taken a turn in Boston’s favor, as Kidd has since informed ESPN that he has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Trail Blazers gig. Meaning, when all is said and done, the Cs could be waiting for Lillard with a major bargaining piece. That is, if they opt to pull the trigger on Kidd as their head coach, who has been readily floated as one of the leading candidates for the team’s head coaching vacancy. According to Haynes, Boston is expected to interview the current Los Angeles Lakers assistant for the opening.
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Lillard Also Backs Other Potential Celtics Candidate
As Haynes noted, Lillard and Kidd are both fellow Oakland, CA natives and have built a strong rapport over recent years. During which, the star point guard has grown increasingly fond of Kidd’s basketball IQ.
The two have a great relationship that goes back years. Lillard genuinely respects Kidd’s basketball acumen and knowledge of the game and believes he can help take his game and the team to the next level, sources said.
Yet, while Kidd may be the apple of Lillard’s eye at the moment, that’s not to say he’s Lillard’s be-all-end-all answer to serve as his next head coach. The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Jason Quick have reported that while the Trail Blazers star does prefer Kidd due to his previous head coaching experience and Oakland ties, he’s also a fan of former Finals MVP Chauncey Billups as a candidate.
Billups, the No. 3 overall pick of the Celtics back in 1997, starred in the NBA for 17 years, earning five All-Star bids and the mantra “Mr. Big Shot.” This past season, he served as an assistant on Tyronn Lue’s coaching staff for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Billups currently holds extremely favorable odds to be named the Celtics’ next head coach, per SportsLine.
Calls for Lillard to Join Celtics
If the Celtics’ first-round playoff exit proved anything, it’s that the team needs more firepower. Yes, Jaylen Brown was unavailable for the series. Yet, even with Brown in the lineup for the majority of the regular season, the team was only able to muster up a .500 record.
A player of Lillard’s magnitude would immediately rejuvenate Boston’s lineup and catapult the Cs to the top of the Eastern Conference — a scenario that former Celtics champion Kendrick Perkins is absolutely here for.
“Hey [Damian Lillard] it’s time brother! You have done enough for that organization bro! It’s time for you to take your talents elsewhere! The Lakers or Celtics would be a great fit for you. Carry on… IMOP,” Perkins tweeted.
Lillard has been extremely loyal to Portland over his career, almost to a fault. However, it’s plausible to wonder if he could be growing impatient with the team’s inability to surround him with Championship-caliber talent. In fact, Lillard hasn’t played alongside an All-Star since LaMarcus Aldridge left for San Antonio in 2015 (h/t Mass Live). In Boston, Lillard would not only be joining an All-Star but one of the league’s brightest stars in 23-year-old Jayson Tatum — immediately gifting him with the best running-mate of his career.
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