Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard denied a report from Friday morning that he is planning to request a trade.
Speaking to reporters as a member of Team USA, Lillard said he is aware of the rumors but has not decided on his future plans at this point.
"I woke up to those reports, a lot of people reaching out to me," Lillard said. "But it's not true. I'll start off the rip and say it's not true. A lot of things are being said. It hasn't come from me. I haven't made any firm decision on what my future will be."
Lillard added that he "expects to be" in a Blazers jersey when the 2021-22 season begins.
Henry Abbott of TrueHoop reported Friday morning that Lillard will request a trade "in the days to come."
Lillard said he plans to meet with Portland general manager Neil Olshey and new head coach Chauncey Billups in Las Vegas ahead of the Tokyo Olympics to discuss the future of the team. The meeting was reportedly scheduled before trade rumors picked up on Friday, however Lillard made clear he has significant concerns over the Blazers' ability to contend moving forward.
"The best way to put it is be more urgent," Lillard said. "Be urgent about our next step and how we move forward. We've made the playoffs all these years. We're not a bad team, we're a good team. It's a lot of positives. But we've reached that point where it's not enough."
While Portland has earned a postseason berth in eight consecutive seasons, five of those runs ended with a first round loss. The franchise has been to the Western Conference Finals just once since drafting Lillard in 2012. The trip ended in a 4-0 sweep at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.
Two first round exits over the last two years cost head coach Terry Stotts his job. Now it's on Billups to prove he can do it better, though Lillard isn't so sure a coaching change alone will make a difference.
Lillard begins a new, four-year, $176.3 million contract this season. He wont reach unrestricted free agency until the 2025-26 season at age 35. Unless he demands a trade, the Blazers have their franchise guard locked up for what's left of his prime.
That immediately puts more pressure on Olshey ahead of his Vegas meeting with Lillard and Billups to present a plan that his guard can buy into.
If not, the trade rumors are likely to continue.