Damian Lillard Downplays Speculation over Free-Agency Tweets: 'I'm Not Unhappy'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2018

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 19:  Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers stands on the court during Game 3 of the Western Conference playoffs against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on April 19, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard declined he's angling for a move out of the Pacific Northwest.

"I'm not unhappy," Lillard said to reporters Sunday during NBA Las Vegas Summer League action, per NBC Sports Northwest. "I love where I live. I love the organization. I love where I am."

Lillard's long-term future with the team has been a storyline at least since ESPN.com's Chris Haynes reported in January he met with Blazers owner Paul Allen. Lillard wanted to "gather an understanding of the organization's direction," according to Haynes.

The three-time All-Star further fueled the speculation with a cryptic reply to a tweet asking if he'd be happy with a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers, who agreed to a deal with LeBron James.

"I'm typically a happy camper," Lillard said in response.

He seemed to then downplay the connection in a subsequent tweet:

Damian Lillard @Dame_Lillard

Everything is a stretch. Oh well https://t.co/p1R2gbadAz

The 2017-18 season encapsulated how the Blazers have a clear ceiling as currently constructed. Although they finished third in the Western Conference, the New Orleans Pelicans swept them out of the playoffs in the first round.

Lillard and CJ McCollum form a dynamic scoring duo in the backcourt, but front-office mistakes have essentially locked Portland in to its roster. According to Spotrac, the Blazers have the sixth-highest payroll in the NBA.

Much of that is a result of their spending during the 2016 offseason when the league salary cap spiked. Portland committed $153 million total to Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard, and each of those deals is regrettable in retrospect.

Lillard is under contract for three more seasons. During that time, it's hard to see how Portland can get any closer to becoming a title contender.

The closer Lillard gets to becoming a free agent, the more the rumors are likely to swirl about his possible departure from the team.


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