As he continues preparations for the Tokyo Olympics, Damian Lillard addressed being the subject of trade rumors since the Portland Trail Blazers' season ended in June.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Lillard said "nobody's heard me say any of these things" about possibly wanting to be moved by the Blazers this offseason (starts at :42 mark):
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Damian Lillard on trade speculation:<br><br>"It's a lot of things being said, sometimes words being put in my mouth when I haven't said anything. It's been a lot of talk. I don't really have nothing to say to you guys about it." <a href="https://t.co/WAaU6j7bKo">pic.twitter.com/WAaU6j7bKo</a>
Speculation about Lillard's future in Portland began immediately after the team's Game 6 loss to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
"I mean, we didn't win a championship, so obviously where we are now isn't good enough," Lillard told reporters following that game. "I don't know what a shakeup looks like or what changes will be made or could be made, but obviously as is, it wasn't good enough."
While the six-time All-Star never said he was looking to get out, his name has come up in rumors.
J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star reported on July 3 that the Philadelphia 76ers are "angling" to find a way to acquire Lillard in a trade.
It's unclear how the Blazers might be able to improve their roster around Lillard this offseason. General manager Neil Olshey told reporters in June they've "got 80 percent of our starting lineup under contract and returning absolutely."
The 80 percent consists of Lillard, CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington. That group alone accounts for $86 million of Portland's projected payroll in 2021-22.
Olshey did hire Chauncey Billups to replace Terry Stotts as head coach following another first-round playoff exit.
The Blazers have lost in the first round four times in the past five seasons.
Lillard has been the driving force behind Portland's success over the course of his nine-year career. The 30-year-old averaged 28.8 points on 45.1 percent shooting, 7.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 67 starts during the 2020-21 campaign.
Next season will mark the first year of Lillard's new four-year contract extension that runs through the 2023-24 season and includes a player option for 2024-25.