Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard denied a rumor Wednesday from Henry Abbott of True Hoop that he's willing to hold out to force a trade to a title-contending team:
Blazers guard CJ McCollum chimed in and had a Twitter discussion with Lillard on the matter.
Lillard responded, saying that the rumor was false:
On June 27, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that a number of factors could force Lillard into requesting a trade.
"The enormous backlash from the Portland Trail Blazers' process to hire a new coach and his concerns on whether a championship contender can be built have become factors that may push the franchise player—Damian Lillard—out the door, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
"Lillard has remained loyal to Portland in large part due to the tremendous fan base. But over the last few days, he’s seen some of those same fans attacking him on social media for a pending coaching hire he played no part in consummating, sources said."
The backlash in question occurred after Lillard reportedly backed Chauncey Billups, who was eventually named as the Blazers' head coach, to replace Terry Stotts.
He notably told Jason Quick and Shams Charania of The Athletic that he liked both Billups and Jason Kidd, who was eventually named as the Dallas Mavericks' head coach.
Billups was accused of sexual assault in 1997 as a member of the Boston Celtics, and the aforementioned criticism ensued after the agreement between he and the Blazers was announced.
On Twitter, Lillard denied knowing about the case when he backed Billups' candidacy:
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>
As far as title contention goes, the 30-year-old Lillard has done all he can to put the Blazers in position to succeed year after year.
He is a six-time All-NBA player who averaged 28.8 points and 7.5 assists per game last season. The Blazers made the playoffs for the eighth straight year but fell to the Denver Nuggets in the first round.
Portland has been a consistent Western Conference contender under the superstar, and the team made the 2019 Western Conference Finals.
A breakthrough to the NBA Finals has not happened in the tough Western Conference, however, despite the Blazers' consistent success.
Perhaps Lillard's time in Portland is coming to an end, but if it does, that apparently won't involve a holdout.
Lillard is owed $141.75 million over the next three seasons. He holds a player option for the 2024-25 season.