Damian Lillard: I plan to spend entire career with Trail Blazers

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Before his excellent clutch play against the Thunder last night, Damian Lillard made a little history in Portland’s loss the Warriors on Friday.

He became the first Trail Blazers player with 40 points and 10 assists in their current arena.

Interesting? Barely.

But his response to the accomplishment is much more so.

Lillard, via Jason Quick of CSNNW:

“It’s always good to be the first one to do something,’’ Lillard said. “Especially being part of an organization I plan on being a part of for my entire career. It’s an honor, but I would have liked for it to be in a winning effort.’’

Before Lillard, Portland put 15 players into the All-Star game. Fourteen of them departed afterward. The discussion of the best player to spend his entire NBA career with the Trail Blazers centers on Geoff Petrie (the lone All-Star exception) and Arvydas Sabonis – who combined for just 13 seasons in Portland.

So, retaining star talent can be a sore spot for the Trail Blazers – especially in the wake of LaMarcus Aldridge leaving.

In July 2014, Aldridge expressed his desire to re-sign on a five-year contract become the “best Blazer ever.” Less than a year later, he agreed to sign with the Spurs.

So, I’m sure Lillard’s comment will be met with both open arms and skepticism. It’s nice to hear a star wants to stay, but saying so and doing so are very different things.

Lillard just signed a five-year contract extension that begins next season, so he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Portland is rebuilding around him, and he’s doing his part to meet growing expectations.

He has a long career ahead of him – which just adds to the uncertainty of his pledge. I believe Lillard plans right now to spend the rest of his career in Portland. But so much will change – maybe for the better, maybe for the worse – by the time he can actually leave.

If I were the Trail Blazers, I’d rather he be happy than unhappy with his situation right now. But it’s far more important – and far from certain – he’ll feel the same way in 2022.