Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said rumours that he had requested a trade are “not true,” but added that he hasn’t made any firm decisions about his future yet.
“A lot of things are being said (but) it hasn’t come from me,” Lillard said from the U.S. Olympic camp in Las Vegas on Friday. “But I’ll also say I haven’t made any firm decision on what my future will be. So, there’s really no need for anybody else to speak for me or report this or report that.”
In late June, Yahoo Sports insider Chris Haynes reported that, “The enormous backlash from the Portland Trail Blazers’ process to hire a new coach and his concerns on whether a championship contender can be built have become factors that may push” Lillard to request a trade. In an interview with Haynes published earlier in the day Friday, Lillard didn’t specifically address whether he had requested a trade, but explained a little further what decisions he’s weighing this off-season.
“We’re not winning the championship, but we’ve got a successful organization. We’re not a franchise that’s just out here losing every year and getting divided. We have positive seasons; we just don’t end up with a championship. So I feel like at this point, I basically made the decision that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been,” Lillard told Haynes. “Just like I hold myself accountable for a bad performance or hold myself accountable to make sure that I work my ass off when I’m training, I must be accountable for saying what needs to be said even if it’s not popular.”
Lillard, who turned 31 on Thursday, agreed to a four-year super-max extension with the Trail Blazers back in 2019, but the extension doesn’t begin until this upcoming season. The contract, valued at more than $176 million, according to Spotrac, is guaranteed for three years and includes a fourth-year player option.
Lillard has spent his entire nine-year career with the Trail Blazers and is one of the top shooters in the NBA today. A six-time All-NBA player, Lillard averaged 28.8 points on 45 per cent shooting last season, including 39 per cent from three this season.
The Blazers have made the post-season in eight consecutive seasons, but been have eliminated in the first round in four of the past five years, including by the Denver Nuggets this spring. The team recently parted ways with long-time head coach Terry Stotts and replaced him with Chauncey Billups, a controversial decision due to past sexual-misconduct allegations against Billups.