Damian Lillard is all-in on the Trail Blazers this season. While teams from New York to San Francisco are monitoring the Lillard situation, he is not trying to push his way out of Portland (right now).
If things don’t go as planned for the Trail Blazers this season and Lillard has a change of heart, don’t expect new Portland coach Chauncey Billups to be the one to talk him out of it. Billups was on Sirius XM NBA Radio’s Blazers preview and clarified Lillard is focused on this season and not talking trade, but if things change, Billups understands a player has to do what is best for himself and his family.
Trail Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups reveals his message to Damian Lillard.
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“I came here to coach you, but it’s your career, it’s your life, and it’s your family. I’ve been there before, and I’m not going to be the guy preaching, ‘Stay here, go there, do this.’ I got a job to do; I want to do it with you, obviously. But if at some point you deem ‘Hey, another place is another place for me,’ that’s not going to be an indictment on myself. That’s going to be you making a decision for you and your family.”
Lillard is going to respect that.
It doesn’t mean Lillard will be a Trail Blazer a year from now, but he’s giving Billups a shot.
Portland is one of the wild card teams in a deep West. With Jusuf Nurkic in the paint and the addition of Larry Nance Jr. on the wing — to go with the elite backcourt of Lillard and CJ McCollum — if things break right, the Trail Blazers could have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. However, if the defense doesn’t improve, if Portland’s flaws continue to short circuit their success, this team could be in the play-in games.
How Lillard will read any of those experiences remains to be seen. He is coming off winning Olympic gold, and being around that level of NBA talent can change players’ perspectives.
For now, Lillard is locked in with Portland, and they will be an interesting team to watch this season.