NBA Rumors: Damian Lillard, Blazers Aren't 'Ready to Entertain Trade Possibilities'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 30, 2021

SAITAMA, JAPAN - JULY 28: Damian Lillard #6 of Team United States looks on against Islamic Republic of Iran during the first half of a Men's Preliminary Round Group A game on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on July 28, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Damian Lillard may be traded at some point this offseason, but it reportedly won't be happening in the near term.

According to NBA writer Marc Stein, "neither Portland nor Lillard is ready to entertain trade possibilities ... certainly not while Lillard is in Tokyo trying to focus on the Olympics."

Expect the Philadelphia 76ers to continue being linked to Lillard as a potential trade partner, however, as they look to move on from star point guard Ben Simmons.

Per Stein, there were "ill-founded suggestions" this past week of a potential Simmons for McCollum swap, in which the veteran shooting guard was "the prime acquisition from the Blazers." But Stein added that "it was made clear, when I checked it out, that Lillard remains the Trail Blazer coveted by Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey."

Lillard has maintained to this point in the offseason that he hasn't requested a trade. But he also hasn't slammed the door on the possibility of doing so in the future.

"I woke up to those reports and a lot of people reaching out to me. It's not true," he told reporters earlier in July after a USA Basketball practice, responding to reports that he planned to request a trade. "I said the last time I spoke to you guys a lot of things have been said, but it isn't coming from me. No. 1, it's not true. Secondly, I haven't made any firm decision on what my future will be. There's really no need for anybody else to speak for me or report this or report that. If there's something to be said—as I said the last time—I'll speak directly with my team and Neil [Olshey]. That's that."

The general belief, based on Lillard's own comments, is that the Trail Blazers have to find a way to make significant strides toward improving the roster this offseason. Anything short of that might be the tipping point for Lillard to ask out. 

"Right now, I'm not sure what I'm going to do," he said. "What I can say is my heart has always been set on being in a Trail Blazers uniform for my entire career. Over time, you want to win it all. I want to win it all in a Trail Blazers uniform, but we all have to be making strides towards that."

The Blazers went 42-30 last season but lost to the Denver Nuggets in six games in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs, a loss made all the more disappointing by the fact that Denver played without star point guard Jamal Murray and solid wing scorer Will Barton. 

Unless the Blazers make some major changes to improve the roster—which will be difficult, considering they are already slightly above the salary cap with an active roster cap of $112.6 million, per Spotrac.com, and have limited resources on the roster to move in a deal for another star—the rumors about Lillard eventually requesting a trade will persist. 

For the time being, however, he's a Blazer.