August 11, 2021

The Trail Blazers Just Gave Damian Lillard Every Reason to Demand a Trade

After the Trail Blazers bowed out of the first round of the NBA playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years, Portland's focus shifted to Damian Lillard’s future with the franchise that drafted him sixth overall in the 2021 NBA Draft

While the star point guard hasn’t aired his desire to leave the only franchise he’s donned a uniform for, the Blazers haven’t exactly moved the needle toward making the situation more appealing. 

Instead, the team has largely stood pat this offseason in an effort toward retooling the roster. The front office let go of long-time head coach Terry Stotts and brought aboard Chauncey Billups. 

Meanwhile, the team re-signed swingman Norman Powell to a five-year, $90 million deal as well as signing Cody Zeller, Tony Snell, and Ben McLemore. All that led to Lillard less-than-enthused response to the offseason transactions. 

“Obviously, this go-round, we weren’t able to go out there and get some of the guys that we would have liked,” Lillard said via Basketball News. “You know, you go down the list and you go through the guys you like that are out there and haven’t committed to another team or that was a part of your plans in free agency and you get the ones that want to be a part of what you are doing, and I think that’s what we did.”

The Blazers are well aware of the pressure that is on them to build Lillard’s confidence in the team’s chances toward competing for an NBA title. The six-time All-Star has repeatedly voiced he hasn’t decided on his long-term future despite being under contract through the 2024-25 season. 

Yes, the Blazers could be in the market for some significant roster moves through the trade market, but there are no rumblings toward that direction. It’s given off the tone of a lack of urgency from the franchise to build a championship contender. 

Portland possesses one of the game’s best talents and hasn’t built a roster around him that can compete for more than a playoff berth. Changes are needed if they want to keep Lillard satisfied with the direction the team’s headed. 

The front office may need to explore trades for CJ McCollum to add more proven talent and potentially another All-Star to the mix. The Blazers have an opportunity to build a stronger supporting cast around Lillard that can go further than a first-round playoff exit.

Lillard is one of the league’s most loyal players, but there could come a time where his patience wears thin and he demands a trade. He hasn’t reached that mind frame just yet, but the Blazers are giving him every reason to hit that breaking point.

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