‘He has Built an Empire’: Portland Trail Blazers’ Executive Admits Damian Lillard Does Not Want an Out

Published 07/23/2021, 12:56 AM EDT
DENVER, CO – MAY 12: Damian Lillard (0) of the Portland Trail Blazers prepares to resume action against the Denver Nuggets during the second quarter on Sunday, May 12, 2019. The Denver Nuggets versus the Portland Trail Blazers in game seven of the teams’ second round NBA playoff series at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)


If there is anything that is stealing the Milwaukee Bucks’ thunder of winning the NBA championship after 50 years, it’s all the trade rumors swirling around Damian Lillard. Lillard is what makes the Portland Trail Blazers more relevant than they are in the league. His shooting skills and ability to carry them on their shoulders have helped make a big name for himself. Although he might be achieving a lot of success, his team is stagnant at being mediocre.

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Contrary to popular opinion: Dame doesn’t want to leave?

The Portland Trail Blazers have an MVP caliber player leading them, yet they are far away from top teams in the league right now. Their constant struggle in the regular season and scraping through to reach the postseason and then being kicked off very early hasn’t helped their case either.

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And it seems like Lillard is tired of wasting his prime with a team that is showing no signs of taking him to the promised land. So, there has been speculation that Dame requested a trade from the Blazers. And even though he clarified that no such thing has happened, he didn’t have very brilliant things to say about the franchise.

While his comments have sparked uncertainty in his future plans, a Blazers’ executive seems to think otherwise. He recently told ‘The Athletic’, “I don’t think he wants to leave. He has built an empire here. But we have to assume he is leaving to make sure he is not leaving.”

DENVER, CO – MAY 12: Damian Lillard (0) of the Portland Trail Blazers inbounds against the Denver Nuggets during the second quarter on Sunday, May 12, 2019. The Denver Nuggets versus the Portland Trail Blazers in game seven of the teams’ second round NBA playoff series at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

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What can the franchise do to keep Damian Lillard?

It’s already confirmed former PG Chauncey Billups is taking over as their head coach. But keeping another playoff exit at the hands of the Denver Nuggets this season, plenty of roster changes need to be made around Dame. A poor roster is the biggest reason behind their consistent downfall.

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When the Blazers should have focused on bringing in a bonafide superstar next to Lillard, they settled for CJ McCollum. Even though his impact on the offense is integral, he has let them down badly on the defensive end. So, not only do they need someone who can be a useful defender but also shares Lillard’s playmaking burden.

Adding better role players also should be on their to-do list. Jusuf Nurkic hasn’t been showing up as expected since the past few years and others like Enes Kanter, Derrick Jones, and Zach Collins also aren’t cut out for a team that wants to bring in a championship. Only Norman Powell and Robert Covington have made an impact during clutch moments.

Mar 16, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers (from left to right) Robert Covington (23), Damian Lillard (0), Gary Trent Jr. (2), CJ McCollum (3), and Carmelo Anthony (00) walk back to the court after a timeout during the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Since Dame’s entry into the franchise, they’ve only made one appearance in the Conference Finals. And have left the playoffs in the first round itself since the past two seasons. This trend needs to change and this can only be done with their superstar on their side. The Blazers need to act faster and smarter if plan to keep Lillard for longer.

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DIVE DEEPER

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Yashima Bhatia

1482 articles

Yashima Bhatia is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports who specialises in providing nuanced predictions and updates for matches. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Yashima's love for playing the game came up at a young age, when the excitement of the games coupled with the intensity of the Playoffs had her hooked.

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