Potential Los Angeles Lakers target Damian Lillard has heard the latest rumors that he plans to request a trade, but the superstar squashed the notion that he definitely wants out. Lillard also left the door open for things to change as the offseason progresses as the guard is clearly putting pressure on the Blazers to make significant upgrades to the roster heading into next season.
“I woke up to those reports with a lot of people reaching out to me, but it’s not true,” Lillard told reporters during a July 16th press conference. “I’ll start off the rip and say it’s not true. I said the last time I spoke to you guys that a lot of things are being said and it hasn’t come from me. So, No. 1 it’s not true, and secondly, I’ll also say I haven’t made any firm decision on what my future will be. So, there’s really no need for anybody else to speak for me or report this or report that. If there’s something to be said, as I said the last time, I’ll speak directly with my team and with [Blazers GM Neal Olshey]. So, you know, that’s that.”
Dame Squashed the Rumors That He Is Requesting a Trade
The rumors started circulating once again after True Hoops’ Henry Abbott reported Lillard would request to be traded, “in the days to come.” Lillard pushed back against this idea and admitted he expects to be with the Blazers next season.
“Source: Blazers star Damian Lillard to request trade in the days to come,” Abbott tweeted. “If this is a surprise, you haven’t been paying attention.”
The truth appears to be somewhere in the middle, even if Lillard has not formally requested a trade. Yet, Lillard emphasizing he has not made a “firm decision” on his future is a peculiar thing for a player to say who is under contract through 2025. During an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, Lillard explained why he sees this offseason as crucial.
“There are few reasons: One being I’m not getting any younger,” Lillard explained. “Our environment has always been great. We’re not losing a lot, but we were eliminated by a shorthanded Denver team that I felt we should have beat. I just walked away from that really disappointed. I was like, ‘Man, this just isn’t going to work.’ We’re not winning the championship, but we’ve got a successful organization. We’re not a franchise that’s just out here losing every year and getting divided. We have positive seasons; we just don’t end up with a championship. So I feel like at this point, I basically made the decision that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been.”
Could the Lakers Trade for Dame?
Lillard’s close relationship with LeBron James has prompted speculation that the Lakers would be a possible landing spot. However, it is James’ relationship with fellow Klutch Sports client Anthony Davis that likely plays a big role in preventing the Lakers from being a realistic option. The Lakers’ combination of role players and far-off draft picks is unlikely to be enough for the Blazers to consider moving Lillard, even if he does request a trade.
“Does Damian Lillard want to be a Laker? Maybe. Does that matter? Not even a little,” Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike explained. “He has no leverage because of the length of his contract. It makes little to zero sense that Portland would want to do Dame a solid as a thank you for his loyalty by flipping him to a Western Conference rival for a 10-cents-on-the-dollar trade package the Lakers can offer. What good does a 2028 first-round pick do for Portland GM Neil Olshey as he tries to keep his job now?”
One of two key things has to change for the Lakers to have a chance at snagging Lillard. The Lakers would likely have to be willing to include Davis in a deal, or Lillard would need to demand a trade specifically to L.A. Otherwise, the closest Lillard will come to wearing a Lakers jersey is one of the many photoshops floating around social media.