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Damian Lillard on Blazers Trade Rumors: 'I'm Not Leaving PDX. Not Right Now at Least'

Adam WellsAugust 25, 2021

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Portland Trail Blazers fans concerned about Damian Lillard's future with the franchise can breathe a sigh of relief, sort of. 

During an Instagram Live, the six-time All-Star responded to a question asking if he was leaving "PDX."

"I'm not leaving PDX," he said. "Not right now at least."

Landon Buford @LandonBuford

Damian Lillard on leaving PDX:<br><br>"I'm not leaving PDX not right now at least," Says Lillard. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RipCity?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RipCity</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBA</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBATwitter?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBATwitter</a> <a href="https://t.co/aRwnuaR1hQ">pic.twitter.com/aRwnuaR1hQ</a>

Speaking to The Athletic's Christopher Kamrani, Lillard explained why he has mostly tried to shy away from the rumors and speculation this offseason:

“You get to a position where it’s like, ‘Do I defend myself or do I just say nothing.’ For me, when I’m just hearing stuff that’s not the facts, I’m going to say I didn’t say that. Some things I’ve just got to let it be said. I know what the truth is. I know where I stand. It’s not my duty to make the public know … it’s not my job to make them aware of what that is.
“It definitely has been different. I feel like I’ve handled it like I’ve handled everything. I just let it happen. I let people talk and I just stay true to who I am and I stand on that. If I say something, I stand on what I said. It is what it is, at this point.”

Trade rumors have been swirling around Lillard since the Blazers' first-round playoff loss to the Denver Nuggets. 

Lillard helped to instigate the discussion because of his comments in the aftermath of Portland's 126-115 Game 6 defeat on June 3. 

"I mean, we didn't win a championship, so obviously where we are now isn't good enough," Lillard told reporters. "I don't know what a shake-up looks like or what changes will be made or could be made, but obviously as is, it wasn't good enough.   

NBA writer Marc Stein reported July 30 that neither Lillard nor the Trail Blazers were "ready to entertain trade possibilities." 

There has been no indication that Portland wants to move on from its All-Star point guard. He has three guaranteed years and $127.5 million remaining on his contract, which also includes a $48.8 million player option for 2024-25. 

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Lillard's use of the phrase "right now" to indicate he isn't leaving Portland will certainly raise some eyebrows. There could come a point when he does want to explore new opportunities, especially if the Blazers lose in the first round of the playoffs again. 

The team has every incentive to try to build a championship roster around Lillard. The 31-year-old averaged 28.8 points, 7.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game with a 39.1 percent three-point rate in 67 starts last season.    

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