This summer’s NBA free agency period is scheduled to be one of epic proportions. Some household names could be scheduled to hit the free agency market including Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, and Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley, who are all players capable of taking a team to the next level.
As crazy as the free-agent market is scheduled to be, the trade market could be just as hot this summer as one team appears to be headed towards a rebuild. The Portland Trail Blazers have already parted ways with their now former head coach Terry Stotts and agreed to make Chauncey Billups their new head coach. This may be a sign that Portland’s front office could be looking to move in a different direction next season.
Damian Lillard Expected to Request Trade From Trail Blazers
Coaching may not end up being the only new look for the Trail Blazers next season. Their starting five could have a different complexion as well. According to a report from Henry Abbott of True Hoop, Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard is expected to formally request a trade from the team in the coming days.
“Now a source close to Lillard says that in the days to come, he plans to request a trade,” Abbott writes. “If this is a surprise, you haven’t been paying attention. As an organization, the Blazers have been melting since their playoff exit. Coach Terry Stotts was cut loose. Sources say billionaire Jody Allen plans to sell the team. The Blazers are prominent in trade rumors.”
Lillard ‘Has Eyes’ on the New York Knicks
The New York Knicks have always had the money to sign big-name free agents, the issue has always been that in the past they have not been a franchise that is synonymous with winning. After a season in which they finished 4th place in the Eastern Conference, star players are once again enamored at the prospect of playing in front of the fans at Madison Square Garden. Lillard has the Knicks high on his list of trade destinations according to Grant Afseth of Sports Illustrated.
“Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard has his eyes on the New York Knicks among trade destinations in the event he were to be dealt, per a source,” Afseth tweeted on Friday July 16.
Backlash From Billups Hiring Pushed Lillard to Brink
Lillard has spent the entirety of his nine-year career in Portland. It appeared that he would be a Trail Blazer for the long haul after the team signed him to a four-year $196 million supermax contract extension in 2019. He has also claimed his loyalty to the franchise and the city from day one. According to a June 2021 report by Chris B. Haynes of Yahoo Sports all of that changed when the Blazers made the controversial decision of hiring Chauncey Billups as head coach.
“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,” Haynes wrote.
“Portland is currently in negotiations to make Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Chauncey Billups its next head coach. The coaching search was conducted by Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations. None of the candidates who were interviewed were from suggestions from Lillard, sources said.”
Nothing has yet been made official. But the way this NBA offseason has already begun to take shape, fans should be prepared for a wild ride.