Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard is not making any effort to quiet the rumors that the point guard will end up on the Los Angeles Lakers. Lillard quote tweeted a fan’s prediction about the Lakers potentially being his next team and offered his own commentary.
“Bet a Million,” Lillard responded.
The fan’s original message implied that the Lakers will still make a push to add Lillard to their roster this offseason.
“How much y’all wanna bet that before the NBA season starts the lakers will STILL get Damian lillard lol,” Twitter user @TakeFlightG5 noted.
All this sent Lakers fans into a frenzy, but the Blazers superstar is likely having some fun on social media. Unless the Lakers are willing to deal Anthony Davis, Los Angeles does not have the assets to make a blockbuster trade for Lillard happen. The Blazers star is entering the first season of a four-year, $176 million contract that runs until the 2025 free agency.
Lillard Implied the Blazers Struck out in Free Agency
The Lillard trade rumors intensified after True Hoops’ Henry Abbott reported that the All-Star planned to request a trade. Lillard has since refuted the report but has done little to give Portland confidence about his future. Prior to free agency, Lillard emphasized that he wanted to see the Blazers make significant improvements to their roster. With the majority of key free agents signed, Lillard later admitted the Blazers struck out on the players they were targeting.
“When you go into free agency and things like this, you never know what happens,” Lillard said during the Olympics, per The Athletic’s Joe Vardon. “You never know where guys are going to end up and why they go there. You just try to have conversations and convince guys to be a part of our team.
“And obviously, this go around, we wasn’t able to go out there and just get some of the guys that we would have liked, and you go down the list and you go through the guys that are out there that you like who haven’t committed to a team or was a part of your plans in free agency and you get the ones that want to be a part of what you’re doing. And I think that’s what we did.”
LeBron Tried to Recruit Dame to the Lakers in 2018, Says Ex-NBA GM
How did Lillard become linked to the Lakers? The photoshopped images of Lillard wearing a Lakers jersey have circulated social media, but all this appears to be a bit of wishful thinking by L.A. fans. The counter-argument is many people said the same thing about the Lakers’ chances to acquire Russell Westbrook, but Lillard has a much more viable trade market than the new Los Angeles point guard.
A lot of the Lakers speculation is tied to Lillard’s close relationship with LeBron James. The Lakers superstar has been vocal with his praise for Lillard’s game.
“Give me Damian Lillard. I’ll show you how appreciated he’ll be,” James told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes in March 2018.
Former Suns general manager Ryan McDonough recently revealed that James tried to recruit Lillard to join him on the Lakers in 2018. Given the Lakers just traded for Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles is unlikely to land Lillard this time around either.
“LeBron James has recruited superstar point guards before, who were under contract with another team,” McDonough explained in April on the Audacy NBA Show. “We mentioned Steph Curry, but LeBron recruited Damian Lillard a few years ago, quietly, behind-the-scenes — I think it was in 2018 shortly after LeBron signed in LA with the Lakers. Damian Lillard… is one of the best players in the entire league, an MVP candidate, is very loyal to Portland and the Trail Blazers. But LeBron did recruit him, Scal [Brian Scalabrine], my sources tell me LeBron reached out to Lillard and said, ‘Hey, join me in LA and come play for the Lakers’ and Lillard obviously refused.”