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NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Damian Lillard's Trail Blazers Future, Cheick Diallo

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IINovember 8, 2021

Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard plays during an NBA basketball game, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

There's always the potential for trades and signings around the NBA over the course of a season. And there are sure to be plenty that happen during the 2021-22 campaign.

Less than three weeks into the season, rumors are already swirling, and while nothing huge has yet come to fruition, that could change at any point.

The trade deadline isn't until Feb. 10, so there's no rush to get deals done, but the speculation isn't likely to slow much regardless. Here's some of the latest buzz from around the NBA.

                            

Could Lillard, Blazers Be Planning for a Future Trade?

Damian Lillard has been featured in trade rumors in the past, but he's never left the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard is in his 10th NBA season, making him one of the rare stars of this era to have not switched teams at least once.

Of course, he is still only 31, so there's time for that to change. And along with the rumors in the past, Lillard has made conflicting comments about whether he would like to remain with the Trail Blazers for his whole career.

According to The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, there are some people around the NBA who think Lillard's inconsistent remarks could be part of a plan by him and the Trail Blazers to influence the long-term trade market. As O'Connor recently said on The Mismatch (h/t HoopsHype):

"[Lillard] goes from making these vague comments about, 'Yeah, I don't know how long I'll be here,' like weeks before the season to suddenly, 'I'm all in.'" There are front office executives around the league who think this is a strategic choice by the Blazers, Dame's group and all that in order to create leverage for the organization because right now around the league teams just want Dame.

"They don't want CJ McCollum, they don't want Jusuf Nurkic. They're like, 'We're gonna wait for Dame to demand a trade.'"

How could this help both Lillard and Portland? Well, if another team thinks Lillard is unhappy and wants out regardless, it may not have to give up as much to acquire him. So if the point guard is content with his situation, the Trail Blazers could be maximizing what they get in exchange for him.

It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds for the six-time All-Star.

                 

Diallo on Potential Path Back to the NBA?

Cheick Diallo hasn't played in the NBA since late in the 2019-20 season. Since then, the 25-year-old forward has spent time in Russia and Spain. However, he could be on a path back to the NBA.

According to James Edwards III of The Athletic, Diallo has signed to play for the Motor City Cruise, the NBA G League affiliate of the Detroit Pistons. If he fares well, perhaps he could work his way on to the Pistons roster.

Diallo is a four-year NBA veteran who spent his first three years with the New Orleans Pelicans before signing with the Phoenix Suns ahead of the 2019-20 campaign. He was a second-round pick of the Pelicans in the 2016 NBA draft, getting selected 33rd overall.

During his lone season with the Suns, Diallo averaged 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 47 games. He mostly served in a bench role throughout his time with both teams, making only three starts in 180 career games.

It's possible that Diallo has improved his game during his time in Europe, so maybe he will make a larger impact if he can get back into the league, whether that's with Detroit or another team.

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