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Lakers Trade Rumors: Damian Lillard-to-LA Buzz Dismissed by Blazers GM

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2018

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard drives to the basket past Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, March 15, 2018. The Blazers won 113-105. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)
Steve Dykes/Associated Press

Damian Lillard may be at the center of trade rumors linking him to the Los Angeles Lakers, but general manager Neil Olshey doesn't seem inclined to put his superstar point guard up for sale.

"As much as I love LeBron [James], he doesn't get to pick his teammates," Olshey told Peter Socotch of NBC Sports Northwest. "That's not how it works. This isn't the world of sending a couple of texts out and see who wants to run with us..."

But according to Stephen A. Smith of ESPN (h/t NESN's Dakota Randall), Lillard would be "open to leaving, even though he loves being in Portland." 

ESPNLosAngeles @ESPNLosAngeles

Which two teams does Damian Lillard see himself playing for? (@stephenasmith) https://t.co/dFlwpyOB5Q

Smith continued: 

"If Damian Lillard is going to leave the comfortable and financially beneficial confines of Portland, it's only for two places from what I'm being told. He's only interested in New York or L.A. One of the two. New York or L.A., and by L.A., I mean the Lakers, not the Clippers. That's what Damian Lillard wants.

"His preference would be for the Portland Trail Blazers to find somebody, somebody big time to join him and CJ McCollum in Portland. That's Damian Lillard's preference. But if they can't improve the team and if they can't find anybody, then he's interested in going one of two places: My sources tell me it's the Lakers or the Knicks."

Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne

@ESPNLosAngeles And then I said he’s got a lot of time left on his deal... no way he’d push his way out...and no fan base hates the Lakers more than Portland so I don’t see anything happening. Sheesh.

And Chris Sheridan of Get More Sports reported on July 2 that the Lakers are interested in adding a player like Lillard, Kevin Love, DeMar DeRozan, Bradley Beal or John Wall to pair with James. 

Now, whether any of those teams would be willing to trade the Lakers their star is another story entirely. 

Most teams would be interested in the 27-year-old Lillard, who averaged 26.9 points and 6.6 assists per game for the Blazers last season. It seems more likely the Blazers would be buyers in the star market and not sellers, trying to maximize on the postseason window created by Lillard and McCollum. Certainly, Olshey's comments would seem to reflect that mindset. 

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