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Report: Damian Lillard Not Expected to Request Blazers Trade Despite Previous Buzz

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 16, 2021

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Superstar guard Damian Lillard is reportedly not expected to request a trade away from the Portland Trail Blazers despite a previous report to the contrary.

Henry Abbott of TrueHoop reported Friday that a source close to Lillard said he is planning to ask for a trade "in the days to come."

Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian later reported Lillard is not planning to ask for a trade and will address the trade rumors during his media availability for the United States Olympic team.

Lillard, 31, has spent his entire nine-year NBA career in Portland, and he still has three years remaining on his contract after signing a four-year extension in 2019.

The former Weber State standout is a six-time All-Star overall and has been named an All-Star in each of the past four seasons. He has also been named to an All-NBA team six times, including the first team in 2017-18 and the second team last season.

Lillard has helped the Blazers reach the playoffs in each of the past eight campaigns and set career highs with 30.0 points and 8.0 assists per game last season. This year, he averaged 28.8 points, 7.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds.

Abbott noted the Blazers were bounced by the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs this season even though Lillard averaged 34.3 points and 10.2 assists during the series and racked up 55 points in a Game 5 loss.

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There may be deeper reasons behind Lillard's reported desire to play elsewhere, however.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported last month that criticism from a portion of the Blazers fanbase for the hiring of new head coach Chauncey Billups didn't sit well with Lillard.

It has been questioned if general manager Neil Olshey and the Blazers organization properly vetted and investigated Billups, who faced sexual assault allegations in 1997 before the case was settled financially.

Lillard mentioned both Billups and Jason Kidd to Haynes as rumored candidates he would like to replace the fired Terry Stotts as head coach.

After receiving some backlash for his apparent support of Billups, Lillard said he didn't know about the sexual assault allegations when he gave his blessing:

Damian Lillard @Dame_Lillard

Really? I was asked what coaches I like of the names I “heard” and I named them. Sorry I wasn’t aware of their history I didn’t read the news when I was 7/8yrs old. I don’t support Those things … but if this the route y’all wana come at me… say less <a href="https://t.co/N1GPkX3Ohd">https://t.co/N1GPkX3Ohd</a>

Haynes reported Lillard played "no part" in the hiring of Billups and that none of the candidates interviewed were suggested to the front office by Lillard.

The Blazers organization seems to be in turmoil, and wading through it may not be worth it to Lillard given their lack of playoff success.

Although Portland has made the postseason eight years running, it has reached the Western Conference Finals only once and has been eliminated in the first round on five occasions.

A supporting cast of CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington likely isn't enough to push Lillard and the Blazers to the top of the Western Conference, meaning asking for a trade may be the only way for him to vie for a championship before he exits his prime.

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