The two all-stars did not attend together but had a moment in the second half along the sideline, shaking hands and sharing a laugh.
A report this week said Lillard has become tainted by the backlash following the Blazers coaching search and has “concerns on whether a championship contender can be built” in Portland, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
It has left him considering looking for a way out from the franchise that drafted him No. 6 overall in 2012.
Lillard has remained loyal to Portland in large part due to the tremendous fan base. But over the last few days, he’s seen some of those same fans attacking him on social media for a pending coaching hire he played no part in consummating, sources said.
Mutual Respect Between Damian Lillard, LeBron James
There’s mutual admiration between James and Lillard, which both stars have shared on occasion during their careers. While with the Cavaliers in 2018 James was asked if Lillard was underappreciated.
“No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so, but he definitely uses that. I like how he uses that,” James said. “If you’re a true basketball (mind) — there’s not a lot of true basketball minds and people that understand the game — but for me, I understand it. I know.”
“Give me Damian Lillard. I’ll show you how appreciated he’ll be.”
Lillard was a pick of James in this year’s All-Star game and thinks the future Hall of Famer has a future in the front office.
“Yeah, I think he’s got a future as a GM because he always gets it right,” Lillard said after helping James go 4-0 as an All-Star captain.
James also put Lillard in his movie, Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Colin Cowherd Says Lakers ‘Have Shot’ at Damian Lillard
“The Lakers think they have a shot at him [Lillard],” Cowherd explained on The Colin Cowherd Podcast. “That’s sort of Los Angeles delusion. The Los Angeles Lakers have players, [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] is a solid player, hot and cold, not what Portland wants. Kyle Kuzma — LeBron doesn’t get along with him. They’d love to move him, he’s kind of expensive. It’s not the kind of contract you can’t move, but it’s not necessarily team-friendly considering he disappears in big spots for the Lakers.
“Dennis Schroder is a guy the Lakers will probably re-sign him, but he’s a difficult, difficult player, I’m told,” Cowherd continued. “Doesn’t get along with a lot of people, can be very difficult to coach, and Frank Vogel’s finding that out.”
So what’s a realistic trade package? A starting point of Caldwell-Pope, Kuzma, Schroder and a few picks is not going to get it done — the Blazers would not bite at that for their certified superstar. Any deal would surely cost the Lakers Talen Horton-Tucker as part of a sign-and-trade. Even with him, though, the Blazers likely will get better offers.
The reality is that if Lillard doesn’t want to play in the Pacific Northwest anymore, his next stop will probably not be with the Lakers.