With Damian Lillard getting his first chance to play with the Team USA Men’s Olympic basketball team, he’s mostly been focusing on winning a gold medal. However, there’s a lot of chatter about him right now that has nothing to do with the Olympics. As they’ve done almost every year since Lillard joined the team, the Portland Trail Blazers lost early in the playoffs and clearly don’t have a team that is ready for championship contention.
Lillard desperately wants to win but it’s fair to question if that will ever happen in Portland. There’s been a lot of speculation that he might try to force his way out soon with the Los Angeles Lakers being one the teams most often mentioned. Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported that Lillard has “concerns on whether a championship contender can be built” in Portland.
The All-Star himself hasn’t had much to say in public but he had a chance to address the recent chatter after a Team USA practice in Las Vegas.
“Anything that I have to say, I’m going to say directly to [Blazers general manager] Neil [Olshey] and I’m going to address it directly with my team,” Lillard said, via ESPN. “There’s really nothing else I have to say about it.”
He even made it clear that any of the rumors coming out aren’t from him.
“There’s a lot of things being said and sometimes words being put in my mouth, and I haven’t said anything,” Lillard said. “If there is something to be said or if I think something or have something to say that I’m going to say it and I’m going to stand on it.”
Lillard has been very loyal to Portland throughout his career. He has a lot of respect for the franchise. If he’s going to force a trade, he’s going to do it in a respectful manner.
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Will Lillard Request a Trade?
The Olympics are going to keep Lillard occupied for some time so there won’t likely be any movement on a possible trade anytime soon. If he makes that decision, he’s going to think it through. He could even wait until after free agency and the draft.
Portland could come out swinging and add some really good pieces. Perhaps a trade for Ben Simmons or another star could get the team back in Lillard’s good graces. However, if they flop and don’t add any good pieces, he’ll be frustrated. That could push him over the edge and lead to him requesting a trade.
Are the Lakers Players for Lillard?
In terms of assets, the Lakers don’t have a lot to offer Portland. If Lillard has multiple teams he’d be willing to go to, Los Angeles is likely out of the running unless they’d be willing to trade Anthony Davis. That said, the Lakers can offer Lillard a lot. He has a strong relationship with LeBron James and is one of the stars appearing in Space Jam: A New Legacy.
He’s also said in the past that the Lakers would be one of the two teams that he’d want to go to if things didn’t work out in Portland. Considering everything that Lillard has given to his current team, it’s possible that they’d honor a request to trade him to the Lakers if that’s where he really wanted to be. However, he’s not going to want to put the team in a bad spot so it’s not likely Los Angeles will be able to acquire the superstar this offseason.