Damian Lillard may be eyeing the NBA’s most available All-Star right now.
A fan tweeted a Photoshopped image to Lillard this week of Lillard alongside Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons, both wearing Portland Trail Blazers uniforms. Lillard then proceeded to “like” the tweet.
Portland probably cannot house three high-usage players in their backcourt, so they might have to part with CJ McCollum, Lillard’s longtime co-star, in any trade for Simmons. But the Blazers are intent on building a contender around Lillard. A blockbuster trade for Simmons may be one way to do that.
Damian Lillard has been the subject of trade rumors for several months now, but there has been no indication that the Portland Trail Blazers are willing to move their best player. For now, they still want to prove to Lillard that they can contend for a title with him.
In a recent Instagram live session, Lillard said he is not leaving Portland “right now, at least.” You can see that video here.
The Philadelphia 76ers have been the team most frequently linked to Lillard. It seems like their ideal offseason would consist of finding a way to parlay a Ben Simmons trade into acquiring Lillard. If Lillard does not demand a trade, that seems unlikely to happen.
Damian Lillard has been mentioned as a potential trade candidate all offseason, but the star point guard star continues to insist he has not asked the Portland Trail Blazers to move him.
Lillard answered some questions from fans during an Instagram live session on Tuesday night. Naturally, he was asked several times if he expects to leave the Blazers this offseason. He said he is not going anywhere “right now, at least.”
Lillard has been with the Blazers since they drafted him in 2012. He understandably wants to compete for a championship, and at least one team has supposedly been determined to acquire him. If Portland gets off to a rough start next season, Lillard may quickly reevaluate his future.
Damian Lillard has been the subject of trade rumors for much of the offseason. But the Portland point guard made clear on Thursday that he is not headed to the Los Angeles Lakers anytime soon.
Someone on Twitter wrote that they bet Lillard would end up on the Lakers by the time the season began. The tweet seemed to be somewhat of a joke because of all the players the Lakers have landed this offseason. Lillard responded to the tweet by saying he would “bet a million” against it.
The Philadelphia 76ers may be entertaining calls about Ben Simmons, but that potential trade is apparently not at the top of their offseason to-do list.
Derek Bodner of The Athletic wrote on Sunday that the 76ers are more focused on trying to acquire Damian Lillard than they are with trading Simmons. Bodner says president of basketball operations Daryl Morey was “almost singularly focused” on James Harden when the former MVP was forcing his way out of Houston, and Morey is dedicating that same type of attention to Lillard’s situation with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Sixers probably do not currently have the assets that would be needed to trade for Lillard. However, they could make progress in that department if they deal Simmons. It’s unclear if the Blazers would even want Simmons, but a multi-team trade is also something Morey could explore.
Most NBA players err on the side of caution when it comes to being less than 100 percent healthy and taking part in international competition, but Damian Lillard apparently was not concerned about that at the Tokyo Olympics.
Lillard played through an abdominal injury en route to helping Team USA win a gold medal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The injury will require further testing to determine the severity when Lillard returns home.
Lillard started and played 27 minutes in Team USA’s win over France on Saturday. He scored 11 points. The Portland Trail Blazers star had just five points in 17 minutes in the US’ semifinal win over Australia.
It would stand to reason that the injury is not that significant, as Lillard and Team USA probably would not have taken that big of a risk. However, it does speak to Lillard’s level of commitment in helping the team overcome their early struggles to win a gold medal.
Team USA’s fourth consecutive gold medal clearly meant a great deal to the players. That became clear with the way Kevin Durant and Draymond Green called out their critics after Saturday’s game (video here). Lillard was probably motivated to help his teammates silence the naysayers, even if he was a bit banged up while doing so.
Damian Lillard recently denied that he is planning to ask the Portland Trail Blazers for a trade, but that does not mean he is pleased with the current state of the franchise.
Lillard wants to contend for a championship. While speaking with reporters at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday, the star point guard was asked about the role he has played in trying to recruit free agents to Portland. He said all he can do is “try to have conversations and convince guys to be a part of our team,” but that hasn’t worked this offseason.
“And obviously, this go around, we (weren’t) able to go out there and just get some of the guys that we would have liked, and you go down the list and you go through the guys that are out there that you like who haven’t committed to a team or was a part of your plans in free agency and you get the ones that want to be a part of what you’re doing,” Lillard said, via Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “And I think that’s what we did.”
The Blazers did re-sign Norman Powell to a five-year, $90 million deal, but they were unable to attract any of the top free agents on the market. Lillard has watched other playoff teams improve while his team, which finished 6th in the Western Conference and lost in the first round of the postseason, has not made a significant splash.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ latest coaching hire may hardly be a coincidence.
Yaron Weitzman of FOX Sports reported on Wednesday that the Sixers have hired Phil Beckner as a coaching consultant. Beckner is the longtime trainer of Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard. He is also a former assistant coach for Weber State University, where Lillard attended college.
Nearly two weeks after the report, Lillard has not requested a trade, which has led some on social media to go after Abbott over his report. Abbott tried to defend his reporting Thursday, but Lillard jumped in to go after him further.
Now ask yourself that same question about me. I’ve been transparent for a decade..I never denied where I stood following the season… don’t loop me in becuz of the state of the game right now. What you are reporting is simply not the facts bro. I’m the ultimate source https://t.co/CF9DM7PeS4
Abbott responded to Lillard respectfully, saying that he took his job and reporting seriously and his reputation was immensely important to him.
For sure. Appreciate that, and you. But realize: I work in a profession where my reputation is as important to my livelihood as health is to an NBA player. Please be very careful about calling me a liar. I take my job very seriously, and do not lie.
Lillard was far from the only Blazers player unimpressed with Abbott. The reporter may simply have received bad information from a trusted source. Ultimately, though, as long as Lillard remains with Portland, Abbott is going to look like the one in the wrong here.
The USA men’s basketball team is expected to win every game it plays in the Olympics, which is why Sunday’s loss to France in the opening game was so jarring. The talent gap is clear, even though France has solid NBA players in its own right.
USA guard Damian Lillard pointed out after the game, however, that playing these players internationally is very different than facing them in the NBA. Lillard said these international players have more freedom and comfort playing internationally, and seem to raise their game at that level.
“And you know who we see each night sometimes in the NBA, they are completely different when they play for their countries,” Lillard said, via Eurohoops. “They got more freedom, and the comfort level is obvious. So we put ourselves in a dogfight, and they made plays to win it.”
The French have one of the NBA’s best defenders in Rudy Gobert, as well as a solid starter in Evan Fournier. Still, few are going to feel that even playing at a higher level, players like that should be able to lead their team to a win over the Americans. Everyone knows that. So do the players, some of whom apparently feel that the coach isn’t getting the most out of them.
Team USA can still advance to the knockout stage with wins over Iran and the Czech Republic, two teams they are expected to beat handily. Still, the questions are mounting at this stage, and even if Lillard is right, it hardly explains everything.