From the beaches of Miami up north through the streets of Philadelphia and New York — plus a lot of other front offices around the NBA — Damian Lillard watch continues.
The question on everyone’s mind: Is Lillard going to ask out and leave PDX?
So someone asked him when Lillard was on Instagram Live Tuesday night, and this was his response:
“I’m not leaving PDX, not right now at least.”
Damian Lillard on leaving PDX:
— Landon Buford (@LandonBuford) August 25, 2021
Yes, that leaves the door open, but Lillard has always left that door open.
Lillard has been more than clear — he has not asked for a trade. His friend and teammate CJ McCollum said Lillard is all-in with Portland, he just wants to win. Multiple sources have told NBC Sports Lillard wants to give new Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups a chance (even after the Portland front office bungled that hiring).
However, Lillard also said he hadn’t made a firm decision on his future in Portland, and speaking from Las Vegas — where he was training with Team USA before going over to Tokyo to win gold — he threw down the gauntlet to the front office.
“I don’t disagree that maybe Chauncey can change our team and make us a better team,” Lillard said at the time. “But I think if you look at our team as it is, I don’t see how you say ‘this is a championship team, we just need a new coach….’
“We need to be more urgent… we have made the playoffs all these years, we’re a good team, we’re not a bad team, but it’s reached the point where we have to ask ‘have we done enough?’”
Portland’s offseason didn’t show any urgency, unless you think swapping out Enes Kanter for Cody Zeller is a massive upgrade (and if you do, well, thanks for reading momma Zeller). Re-signing Norman Powell was nice but didn’t move the needle. Our partners at Points Bet have the over/under on Trail Blazers wins next season at 44.5, which would have them solidly in the play-in games in the West.
The conventional wisdom around the league is that Lillard asking out of PDX is coming, but not this offseason. Maybe it happens and he gets moved by the trade deadline in February. More likely, it is next offseason. But the sense around the league is Lillard will not be a Trail Blazer a year from now.
But today? Lillard is not leaving PDX, not right now at least.