Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers’ superstar guard, has reportedly requested a trade from the team, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Lillard, who has spent his entire nine-year career with the Blazers, is unhappy with the direction of the franchise and wants to play for a contender. He has four years and $176 million left on his contract, which includes a player option for the 2024-25 season.
Lillard’s trade request comes after a tumultuous offseason for the Blazers, who fired head coach Terry Stotts and hired Chauncey Billups amid controversy over his past sexual assault allegations. Lillard was initially supportive of Billups, but faced backlash from some fans and media members who questioned his involvement in the hiring process. Lillard denied having any influence on the decision and expressed frustration with the criticism.
The Blazers have been one of the most consistent teams in the Western Conference, making the playoffs for eight straight seasons with Lillard as their leader. However, they have never advanced past the conference finals and have been eliminated in the first round in four of the last five years. Lillard, who turned 31 on July 15, is arguably in his prime and wants to compete for a championship before his window closes.
Lillard is one of the best players in the NBA, averaging 28.8 points, 7.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game last season. He is also one of the most clutch performers in the league, hitting several game-winning shots and earning the nickname “Dame Time”. He has made six All-Star teams, six All-NBA teams and won the Rookie of the Year award in 2013. He is also a loyal and respected leader, who has never publicly demanded a trade or criticized his teammates or coaches.
Lillard’s trade request will likely spark a bidding war among several teams who are looking to add a superstar to their roster. According to Wojnarowski, Lillard has a short list of preferred destinations, which include the New York Knicks, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Miami Heat and the Golden State Warriors. However, the Blazers have no obligation to honor his request and could try to convince him to stay or trade him to another team that offers a better package.
The Blazers face a difficult decision on how to handle Lillard’s situation. They could try to improve their roster around him by making some trades or signing some free agents, but they have limited assets and cap space to do so. They could also try to rebuild their team by trading Lillard for young players and draft picks, but they would lose their franchise player and face a long and uncertain future. Whatever they decide, they will have to deal with the consequences of losing or keeping an unhappy star.
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