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#pounditSaturday, September 24, 2022

Damian Lillard

Report reveals Damian Lillard’s preference if traded by Blazers

Damian Lillard

The Portland Trail Blazers have hit some turbulence this season, and it has inevitably led to more rumors about Damian Lillard’s future. It turns out Lillard himself might even be thinking about where he wants to go next.

In an episode this week of his “NBA Big Board” podcast, ESPN’s Chad Ford spoke on Lillard as well as the rumors that Lillard might want to land with the Philadelphia 76ers.

“I don’t actually think that, at least nothing that I’ve heard of, has Damian Lillard insisting that it has to be Philadelphia that he goes to,” said Ford. “In fact, everything that I’ve heard is that he would prefer a move to the West Coast or to stay on the West Coast.”

That would actually be a fairly notable development for Lillard. Most of the trade rumors in recent months had suggested that Lillard might like to go to the 76ers or to this other prominent East Coast team. But to prefer staying on the West Coast would make sense for Lillard, who is a native of Oakland, Calif. and attended college at Weber State University in Utah.

At the moment, the Blazers are 21-31 and recently shut down Lillard to have surgery for his lingering abdominal injury, keeping Lillard out until at least March. Lillard has been a lifelong Blazer, but Portland does not appear to have a path to contention as he moves further into his 30s. If Lillard does indeed want to stay on the West Coast, there was one such team that was recently linked to him.

H/T HoopsHype

Photo: Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Blazers get bad news on Damian Lillard’s health

Damian Lillard

It had already been raining for the Portland Trail Blazers, and now it is officially pouring.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported on Wednesday that Blazers star Damian Lillard is planning to have surgery in the near future to address his lingering abdominal injury. Windhorst adds that the procedure is not expected to be season-ending but that the situation is still to be determined.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, who is well-connected with Lillard’s camp, adds that Lillard will be re-evaluated in six-to-eight weeks after the surgery.

The six-time All-Star Lillard had been laboring through the injury all season. He was averaging an uncharacteristically low 24.0 points per game on 40.2 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from deep, the worst shooting splits of his career. As Wednesday’s news broke, Lillard was in the middle of his second separate multi-game absence this year due to the abdominal issue.

Some may question why Lillard and the Blazers waited this long for surgery. After all, there were plenty of signs that Lillard’s injury had been lingering for some time now. Furthermore, Portland is now 16-24 on the year and is in danger of falling out of play-in tournament territory. Despite the reports seemingly leaving open the possibility of Lillard returning this year, it is hard to see the incentive for him to do so if the Blazers continue to lose.

Photo: Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Knicks have considered trades for 2 star players

Damian Lillard

The New York Knicks had a surprisingly strong campaign a year ago, providing some excitement with a playoff appearance. Some within the front office clearly want to capitalize on that momentum by trading for a star.

The Knicks have internally considered a possible trade for Philadelphia 76ers outcast Ben Simmons, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. However, terms have never been discussed directly with the 76ers, and there is skepticism that the Knicks could formulate an offer strong enough to get a deal done.

The Knicks have eyed other stars as well. Fischer adds that a faction of the Knicks’ front office wanted to launch a pursuit of Damian Lillard during the offseason, and that interest may still linger.

So far this season, the Knicks have yet to replicate last year’s success. They are 18-20 and would not even occupy a play-in position if the season ended today. There are questions over whether the team’s star has it in him to be a vocal leader. The situation seems ripe for a trade, but it may be hard for the Knicks to produce the necessary assets to make it happen.

Photo: Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard in danger of being shut down for season?

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard is out again due to his abdominal injury, and now there may be some concern about what that means for him moving forward.

The Portland Trail Blazers star guard is set to miss his second straight game on Wednesday with the injury. The abdominal issue already caused Lillard to sit out roughly two weeks of action in December before returning.

Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups gave a seemingly ominous quote about Lillard on Tuesday. He said that the team would have a meeting “soon” to discuss the six-time All-Star’s injury and how it will be handled moving foward, per Blazers reporter Jay Allen.

Portland is quickly dropping like a rock. While they beat Atlanta on Monday, the Blazers had lost four consecutive games before that. At 14-22 overall, the team is currently out of even play-in tournament range in the West. Lillard’s co-star, CJ McCollum, also remains out indefinitely with a collapsed lung.

It is clear that Lillard is not right at the moment. His numbers of 24.0 points per game (Lillard’s lowest since 2014-15) on 40.2 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from deep (both the worst of Lillard’s entire pro career) reflect that. While there is definitely something at stake here for Lillard this season, it sounds like the Blazers may be faced with the tough decision of whether to ultimately shut Lillard down for the season and get him healthy.

Photo: Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

76ers’ reported Ben Simmons trade stance is bad news for Damian Lillard

Ben Simmons

If Damian Lillard and Ben Simmons want to play together, they’re going to have to convince the Philadelphia 76ers to significantly change their current stance on a trade.

The 76ers are not interested in a trade involving Simmons and Portland’s CJ McCollum, according to Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice. That was also independently confirmed to Michael Kaskey-Blomain of CBS Sports.

The Sixers remain determined to get fair value if they trade Simmons. They have clearly decided that McCollum does not represent that. The team is in no hurry to make a deal. There is also the fact that Dec. 15 is the date upon which players that signed contracts in the offseason can be traded. That could theoretically improve Philadelphia’s list of potential trade targets, and with the date away, there is no use rushing into a deal.

There are hints that Simmons would like to join Lillard in Portland. It doesn’t look likely anytime soon, even though there is some evidence that the 76ers may have overplayed their hand in their handling of the disgruntled guard.

Photo: Jan 30, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) talks to fans before a game against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard fires back at latest round of rumors

Damian Lillard

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is once again trying to shut down rumors that he might be on his way out of Portland.

With the Portland Trail Blazers struggling and the organization hit by instability, Lillard rumors have ramped up again in recent weeks. A new report on Tuesday indicated that Lillard only wants a two-year extension on top of his current deal, and some candidates to replace fired GM Neil Olshey might prefer to move Lillard rather than have to try to build around him.

On Wednesday, Lillard again went out of his way to affirm that he does not want to be traded. He added that he meets with coach Chauncey Billups daily to try to figure out how to turn things around.

Lillard has been contesting a lot of reports lately. That is what inevitably happens when not all is well, and Lillard can’t argue that that is not the case. Portland sits at 11-14 and the team is struggling with injuries. Lillard wants and expects them to contend for a title, but they’re not close to doing that right now. It seems as if they’re more than one player away from doing it, too.

Lillard’s current contract runs through the 2024-25 season, so he’s fairly committed to Portland from that angle. However, the reality of the situation is a split may have to happen sooner rather than later.

Photo: Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Simmons has interesting reaction to Damian Lillard report

Ben Simmons on the court

Ben Simmons is a hard man to find these days … except on social media.

The absentee Philadelphia 76ers star offered an interesting reaction Monday to the recent report that linked him to Portland Trail Blazers counterpart Damian Lillard. Simmons “liked” an Instagram post from Bleacher Report about the claim. Here is a screenshot of Simmons’ “like.”

The report, which was from The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick, revealed that Lillard supposedly wants to play with Simmons for a number of different reasons. The former No. 1 overall pick Simmons remains at an impasse with the Sixers and has been away from the team all year. Lillard’s Trail Blazers, now under .500, have been a flop this season and are in sore need of any kind of upgrade.

While Lillard is under contract through 2024, this year is widely seen as a litmus test for him to decide if he wants to pursue a move out of Portland. Some indications are that this could be the time to strike on Simmons too, especially given this apparently mutual interest in teaming up with Lillard.

Photo: May 13, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) warms up prior to the game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard has strong response to report of tension with Chauncey Billups

Damian Lillard

The Portland Trail Blazers have been inconsistent at best this season, and a report on Monday claimed that has already led to tension between first-year head coach Chauncey Billups and some of his players. Damian Lillard issued a strong response to that report.

A story from Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic cited sources who claim “Lillard has grown frustrated with the team’s play and tension appears to be on the rise between the players and Billups.” Lillard caught wind of the report and ripped it in a tweet.

The report notes that Billups lit into Blazers players following their 145-117 loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.

“Competitive fire and pride, that’s something you either have or don’t have,” Billups said. “That’s something you can’t turn off and turn on. … I’ve never seen a team that needs its bench to inspire our starters. That shit is crazy to me. It’s supposed to be the other way around.”

It would hardly be a surprise if that type of public criticism irritated Lillard and others, especially coming from a first-year head coach. Lillard has also been openly frustrated with Portland’s roster in recent years. The fact that the team did not make significant improvements this offseason and is 11-13 probably has not pleased him.

The same report from The Athletic claimed Lillard wants to team up with a specific star player, but Lillard did not address that.

Photo: Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard would only seek trade to 1 team?

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard trade rumors are officially back like Schwarzenegger in “The Terminator.” That could prove to be good news for one team in particular.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said this week on “NBA Countdown” that the Portland Trail Blazers star, thought he would like to stay put, has the New York Knicks in mind as the one destination he would entertain a trade to.

“Damian Lillard does want to stay in Portland,” said Smith. “If you talk to him, his whole thing is, ‘I wanna be here. This is where I wanna be. This is where I wanna retire.’ The only thing that would really really tickle him and make him entertain leaving Portland, believe it or not, is going to the New York Knicks.

“There are people in his camp that would like to convince him to give [the] Philadelphia [76ers] stronger consideration,” Smith added. “But when he thinks about the New York Knicks, he thinks about going to the top market in the country, thinks about, obviously, marketability … Damian Lillard knows that if he were in the Mecca, it would be far easier for him to recruit teammates to wanna come and play with him as opposed to him being in the Pacific Northwest. The New York Knicks would be his No. 1 preference.”

It wwas inevitable that Lillard trade rumors would return with Portland’s rough start to the 2021-22 campaign. They are now under .500 on the year, have a rookie head coach in Chauncey Billups, and are going through some organizational turmoil right now. Lillard is also dealing with an abdominal injury that will now keep him sidelined through mid-December, putting the Blazers at risk of really coming apart at the seams.

The Knicks have had noted interest in Lillard for several months now. Their associate head coach, Johnnie Bryant, is also famously close with Lillard as a fellow Oakland, Calif. native. Now it sounds like the interest could be starting to teeter towards mutual for the six-time All-Star guard.

H/T Ahn Fire Digital

Photo: Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard’s abdominal injury is big cause for concern?

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard has looked more like Dame Dolla Store than Dame Dolla this season, and now we may have a better indication of why.

A report went viral this week from Josh Lloyd of Basketball Monster. Lloyd relayed in October that there was conjecture about Lillard playing through a somewhat significant abdominal injury that might have worsened when he played in the Tokyo Olympics. Lloyd also added that the prevailing thought was that Lillard probably should have gotten surgery.

Fast forward to this week, and now the six-time All-Star Lillard has been ruled out through mid-December after an MRI revealed lower abdominal tendinopathy. It is a development that seemed to prove Lloyd’s report right.

Blazers coach Chauncey Billups had another concerning quote about Lillard on Thursday. While Billups noted that there has been no talk of surgery at this point, he said that Lillard will spend much of his absence just resting and that the team hopes that he can get in a little bit of basketball activity, per Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report.

Lillard had not looked quite right all year. Normally one of the NBA’s more efficient three-level scorers, Lillard is shooting just 39.7 percent from the field and 30.6 percent from deep (both career lows) for a total of 21.5 points per game this season. The Blazers are also now under .500 for the year.

It is worrisome that Lillard, now in his 30s, had a seemingly significant issue that he played through for over a month’s worth of rigorous NBA action. It even more so considering that he can now do little at this point but just rest. With this season also looking like a prove-it campaign for Lillard’s future in Portland, there is nothing to like about any of this for Blazers fans right now.

H/T NBA Reddit

Photo: Dec 16, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports