Damian Lillard Calls out Gossip on IG Amid Rumors Surrounding His Blazers FutureDecember 7, 2021
Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard addressed ongoing speculation about his long-term future with the team.
"Gossip may reveal the realities of its subject; it always reveals the bias of the gossiper," read an image he posted to Instagram.
On Twitter, he also appeared to imply former Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey was attempting to malign his reputation:
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that Lillard will seek a two-year, $107 million extension when he becomes eligible for one in July. He's already signed through the 2024-25 season after putting pen to paper on a four-year, $176.3 million extension.
According to Wojnarowski, Lillard's camp sees the extension as a way to effectively gut the current roster and start over with the six-time All-Star as the centerpiece.
However, potential candidates to succeed Olshey, who was fired on Dec. 3, are reportedly not as keen on that plan:
"Among several top-level GM candidates who fit the profile of Portland's applicant pool, there's no enthusiasm to grant Lillard his massive extension contract through the 2026-27 season. In fact, several executives told ESPN they would be far more interested in the Blazers job with ownership's blessing to move Lillard sooner than later."
Lillard obviously took issue with Wojnarowski's reporting, but his attempts to quell the rumors are unlikely to be successful.
As The Athletic's John Hollinger wrote, Lillard's tenure in Portland may be reaching its terminus.
By meeting his demand of a contract paying him $50 million annually, the Blazers risk having a John Wall or Russell Westbrook-sized albatross on their payroll. Wall and Westbrook both received massive extensions to stay with their current teams, and it didn't take long for those deals to backfire.
In the short term, the franchise's championship window may already be closed for the duration of Lillard's current deal. The Trail Blazers are 10th in the Western Conference at 11-14, and they don't have much in the way of trade assets to dramatically upgrade the roster.
Even if he's unable to bring Portland a title, Lillard is arguably the second-best player in team history behind Clyde Drexler. While trading a star who means so much to the fanbase is never easy, wiping the slate clean might be the best strategy for whoever replaces interim GM Joe Cronin.
And whether he likes it or not, Lillard is bound to drive plenty more conversations around the NBA.