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#pounditSunday, February 5, 2023

Damian Lillard

Report: Damian Lillard hesitant to request trade because of interesting reason

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard has decided to give it another shot with the Portland Trail Blazers. But he might have already asked out if not for the risk of having his old takes exposed.

Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice reported this week that sources believe Lillard is being held back from requesting a trade because of his loyalty to Portland and an unwillingness to go back on what he has said in the past about sticking it out with them.

The six-time All-Star Lillard has been a lifelong Blazer since they drafted him back in 2012. But he has only made it as far as the conference finals with them, sandwiched between several disappointing early playoff exits. Rumors earlier in the offseason suggested that Lillard might demand a trade, but he has since put that speculation to rest.

Indeed, Lillard has proclaimed that he would not sell out to win a title. He has even mocked some of his NBA peers for switching teams. At this point, it seems that Lillard’s adherence to his word may be all that is keeping him in Portland for now.

Damian Lillard appears to end speculation about his future in Instagram post

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard sounds ready to enter the new NBA season without a cloud of uncertainty hanging over his future.

The Portland Trail Blazers star appeared to re-affirm his commitment to the team in a post to Instagram on Wednesday.

“Back for more… #RipCity is my city,” Lillard wrote in his caption.

It has been a summer of speculation with regard to Lillard’s future. While the six-time All-Star has been with the Blazers for his entire nine-year NBA career, some reports suggested that he might request a trade from the team. Portland just fired longtime head coach Terry Stotts and lost in the first round last season for the second consecutive year.

This post directly from Lillard should effectively end the speculation though. In fact, we have an idea of what he may want the Blazers to do next.

Did Damian Lillard hint he wants Ben Simmons on Blazers?

Damian Lillard

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.

The “like” is still visible on Lillard’s Twitter page.

The Simmons situation in Philadelphia has gotten pretty ugly with certain reports even claiming that the former No. 1 overall pick wants to play for a West Coast team. Lillard himself has been the topic of recent trade rumors as well, but he is putting those to rest for the time being.

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.

Blazers reportedly focused on building around Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard

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.

Shams Charania of The Athletic wrote on Monday that the Blazers are “fully focused” on building around Lillard. The six-time All-Star is evaluating the team’s situation and future prospects, but he is reportedly planning to report to training camp.

A report in July claimed a Lillard trade request was imminent, but he quickly disputed that and called out the person who reported it. Lillard has, however, made it clear that he is not thrilled with Portland’s offseason.

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 addresses trade rumors in Instagram live session

Damian Lillard

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.”

A report in July claimed a Lillard trade request was imminent, but the six-time All-Star quickly disputed that and called out the person who reported it. Lillard has, however, made it clear that he is not thrilled with Portland’s offseason.

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 makes clear he will not be joining Lakers anytime soon

Damian Lillard

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.

Lillard has made clear this offseason that he wants to see improvement from the Trail Blazers. He is not ready to leave the team, but he has certainly put them on notice.

The 31-year-old has been with the Blazers since being drafted by them No. 6 overall in 2012. He has made six All-Star teams and carried them as far as the conference finals. There actually seems to be a different team that is trying hard to land Lillard.

Report: 76ers focused on trying to acquire Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard

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.

Of course, this all assumes the Blazers are willing to part ways with Lillard. The six-time All-Star made it clear over the weekend that he is not impressed with Portland’s offseason. He also denied a report that he is planning to ask the team to trade him.

Simmons seemingly wants out of Philadelphia. He has supposedly cut off all communication with the team. The feeling is probably mutual, but the 76ers may have a hard time convincing teams to pay their asking price.

Damian Lillard reportedly played through injury at Olympics

Damian Lillard

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 makes it clear he is not impressed with Blazers’ offseason

Damian Lillard

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.

A report last month claimed a Lillard trade request was imminent, but the six-time All-Star quickly disputed it and called out the person who reported it. Lillard did, however, admit that he wants the Blazers to show more urgency to improve. His remarks about free agency probably aren’t a good sign.

Sixers positioning themselves for run at Damian Lillard with latest hire?

Damian Lillard

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.

We know the Sixers are aggressively pursuing upgrades and are more than willing to part ways with All-Star Ben Simmons. As for Lillard, he has been dogged this offseason by rumors that he may seek a trade from the Blazers.

When it comes to the Beckner hire, one has to think it was a calculated move on the Sixers’ part. After all, they have been hot on Lillard’s trail all summer.