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Chauncey Billups Says He Won't 'Be the Guy Preaching' for Damian Lillard to Stay

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVOctober 8, 2021

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Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups said he hopes superstar point guard Damian Lillard will remain with the franchise, but he's not going to beg him to stay.

Billups, a five-time All-Star as a player who was hired by Portland as a first-time head coach in June, discussed Lillard's future Thursday on SiriusXM NBA Radio.

"I came here to coach you, but it's your career and it's your life and it's your family," Billups said. "I've been there before, and I'm not going to be the guy preaching, 'Stay here, stay here, go there, do this.' No. I got a job to do, I want to do it with you, obviously. But if at some point you deem, 'Hey, another place is another place for me,' that's not going to be an indictment on myself. That’s going to be you making a decision for you and your family."

He added the belief is Lillard remains "all-in" on the Blazers.

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The 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year has been the focus of trade rumors several times throughout his career, and the rumor mill started spinning again this summer when Henry Abbott of TrueHoop reported in July the standout guard was preparing to request a trade out of Portland.

Lillard, who was preparing to play for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics at the time, called the speculation "not true" and reiterated his desire to win a championship with the franchise.

"My intentions and 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 and I want to win it all in a Trail Blazers uniform, but we all have to be making strides towards that," Lillard told reporters.

The six-time All-Star did note he wasn't sure the current roster was prepared to seriously contend for a title, however: "If you look at our team as it is going into next season, I don't see how you can say this is a championship team."

Lillard, who averaged 11.2 points in the Olympics to help the U.S. capture the gold medal in men's basketball, changed his tune a bit when he arrived to training camp in September, saying he had "faith" the front office was moving the roster in the right direction.

"You want it to be in line with something that could actually make us better, something that could send us to the level that we're trying to get to," he said. "We've done some things that I like. I didn't expect us to go out there and get Kevin Durant all of the sudden."

The Blazers' front office has previously struggled to upgrade the roster around the guard tandem of Lillard and CJ McCollum, and the result has been failing to improve on a trip to the 2019 Western Conference Finals. They've been knocked out in the first round of the playoffs each of the past two seasons.

Portland didn't make any major splash during this offseason, but it did make some solid depth additions iincluding Larry Nance Jr., Ben McLemore, Tony Snell and Cody Zeller.

While Lillard's initial comments in July about the Blazers' roster not being on a championship level were accurate, it's possible the front office could try to make a splash for a third star before the trade deadline if the team puts together a strong first half.

Working with Billups, who earned the nickname "Mr. Big Shot" for his own propensity to hit key shots as a player, could also help "Dame Time" individually in a season where he could contend for the MVP Award.

The Blazers will tip off the 2021-22 campaign Oct. 20 when they host the Sacramento Kings.

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