Perhaps more so than any other player around the NBA, Los Angeles Lakers fans want to see Damian Lillard in the purple and gold. He’s a big-time scorer and dynamic playmaker. There have been rumors all offseason about him possibly requesting a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers but it looks like he’ll run it back for at least one more season.
Prior to trading for Russell Westbrook, there’s no doubt the Lakers would’ve been all over Lillard had he requested a trade. He even said years ago that the Lakers would be one of the teams he’d want to play for if things didn’t work out in Portland. However, he recently hinted in a tweet that there was no chance he’d be going to Los Angeles this year. Lillard had a chance to clarify the tweet and explain why he won’t be a Laker.
“He said ‘I would bet anybody that when the season starts, Dame’s going to be playing for the Lakers,’” Lillard told Complex News. “And the Lakers just traded for Russell Westbrook, so I’m not going to play for the Lakers. We play the same position, so (I was) like bet a million.”
This won’t come as a great shock as there’s no feasible way the Lakers could trade for Lillard without giving up LeBron James or Anthony Davis. The guard could still end up in Los Angeles one day but it won’t be this season.
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Lillard Not Leaving Portland
Every team in the NBA would love to have a player like Lillard. When there was talk about him requesting a trade, there was no shortage of teams that he was linked to. Unfortunately for those teams, it appears that he’s not going anywhere.
He made it clear in a recent Instagram Live that he’s staying in Portland for now.
The Trail Blazers have him for now but it’s telling that he said: “right now at least.” He’s obviously leaving the door open for a possible exit next offseason should the team struggle again.
What Would It Take for Lillard to Want out of Portland?
Lillard doesn’t seem to be the type who will request a trade midseason. That means the Trail Blazers have a whole season to prove to him that he should stay. The team didn’t do much this offseason outside of hiring Chauncey Billups as the new head coach. It’s fair to question if Portland will be much better than last year’s team.
If they have another first-round exit, that’s not going to help them retain Lillard. He’s being as patient as possible but the Trail Blazers just can’t attract elite free-agent talent. What could save them is a midseason trade for a disgruntled superstar. Players like Ben Simmons or Bradley Beal have been heavily involved in trade rumors this offseason. Adding one of those two would go a long way in convincing Lillard to stay. The team should certainly be keeping tabs on the trade market as their current roster simply isn’t good enough to get out of the West.