The Philadelphia 76ers have been monitoring the Damian Lillard situation from afar throughout the offseason. They set their sights on the six-time All-Star the minute Ben Simmons requested a trade. Now it’s time to move on and find another soap opera to DVR.
Lillard isn’t leaving the Portland Trail Blazers. He’s fully committed to staying out there and bringing a championship to Rip City. The former Rookie of the Year revealed his final decision in an interview with The Athletic, one where he explains how productive conversations with new head coach Chauncey Billups set him at ease.
“Everybody is saying what they think I’m thinking, and what they think I’m going to do, but like, I’m not leaving Portland, you know?” Lillard told Jason Quick. “I think a big part of (my change in mindset) was me and Chauncey’s conversations, and where we see things the same.”
Lillard is willing to “go down in flames” with Billups, according to Quick. The two chatted five or six times before he arrived at this conclusion. He also picked the brain of San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on what qualities make up a championship team. Billups has been to that mountaintop, too. He was NBA Finals MVP as a member of the Detroit Pistons in 2004.
“He has been where I want to go,” Lillard said. “That’s where I landed at. It’s something new; we are going in a new direction.”
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10 Teams Still Interested in Ben Simmons
Simmons remains on the Sixers’ roster. Suspended and unhappy, but still expected to show up at the next practice. The last 48 hours have been hectic after Simmons made a mockery of one practice, then got kicked out of another one for being a distraction. What’s next is anyone’s guess, although trade rumors keep popping up.
Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported “nine known teams” are engaged in talks with the Sixers: Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Indiana, Minnesota, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, Toronto. There is also a 10th “mystery” franchise, per Fischer, which has had substantial trade conversations with Philadelphia. Fischer wrote:
No team, however, has come near Morey and the Sixers’ firm asking price for Simmons, with simultaneous goals to further their championship contention around Embiid and remain in play to some day acquire a potentially available superstar — either from Portland or Washington, or some other unexpected franchise that will eventually arise.
With Lillard out of the mix, the other Portland target could be shooting guard CJ McCollum. The Washington player is thought to be Bradley Beal.
Sixers Prepping for Season Opener
Simmons has been suspended for the game, with Shake Milton (ankle) and Grant Riller (knee) ruled out due to injury. Meanwhile, the Pelicans will be without star big man Zion Williamson who is dealing with a nagging foot ailment. The Pelicans are getting 3.5 points in this one. And the over/under is set at 225.5 points.