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Damian Lillard Rumors: Star's New Contract with Trail Blazers Isn't a 'Sure Thing'

Erin WalshJuly 1, 2022

Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Damian Lillard is under contract with the Portland Trail Blazers for at least two more seasons, but the franchise wants him to stick around even longer and intends to offer him a two-year extension worth more than $100 million, according to Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer.

However, that new contract isn't a "sure thing," according to The Athletic's Sam Amick, who wrote:

"While it has been widely assumed Lillard will accept the two-year extension offer worth more than $100 million that is expected to come his way, sources say the Trail Blazers still needed to have a strong offseason to persuade Lillard to sign on through the 2026-27 campaign (when he'll be 36). The deadline here isn’t until the start of the regular season, and I’m being told this is not a sure thing just yet."

There had been rumblings over the past year that Lillard wanted out of Portland. Before the 2021-22 season began, he expressed disappointment in the team's offseason moves.

Then in December, Amick and Shams Charania reported that Lillard had "grown frustrated with the team’s play" and that "tension [appeared] to be on the rise" between players and head coach Chauncey Billups.

However, Lillard reiterated his commitment to the Trail Blazers in February, ending most of the speculation that he could request a move:

"For me, my heart is Portland Trail Blazer. I want to win it. I know that I have a plan that's going to put me on my best level when I come back to play. And I want our team to fit that. I'm a huge fan of Chauncey Billups. … And I'm a Joe Cronin fan. In his position I think it takes being bold and doing bold things, doing what you see fit and standing on it. He's told me that our plan is to build a winning team, not to rebuild. Because we had a prior relationship to him becoming GM, I trust his word.

"I'm just waiting patiently to let things unfold and allow him to execute his plan. Once we get there and we see what that looks like and what that is, then I'll have, I guess, more feelings than I have now but you've got to allow him to do his job and see what that finished product is. That's just where I am."

The Blazers appear to be taking Lillard's concerns to heart. They acquired Jerami Grant from the Detroit Pistons last month, and he and Lillard played together at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, winning a gold medal with Team USA.

In addition, Portland re-signed Anfernee Simons on a four-year, $100 million deal, agreed to terms to bring back Jusuf Nurkic on a four-year, $70 million contract and signed veteran guard Gary Payton II to a three-year, $28 million deal, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Grant and Payton are both solid defenders, which the Trail Blazers desperately needed after finishing with the second-worst defensive rating in the league last season, according to NBA.com.

That said, Lillard is going to have to do much of the heavy lifting.

The 31-year-old has been a starter since being selected sixth overall in the 2012 draft. During the 2021-22 season, he averaged 24.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 7.3 assists while shooting 40.2 percent from the floor and just 32.4 percent from deep, but he only appeared in 29 games while dealing with an abdominal injury that eventually required surgery.

While the Trail Blazers have made the playoffs in all but two seasons since Lillard joined the squad, they haven't reached the conference finals since 2019, when they were swept by the Golden State Warriors.

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