Some of Damian Lillard’s recent tweets at the beginning of NBA free agency led people to speculate he wasn’t thrilled with the state of the Portland Trail Blazers, but the All-Star guard shot down that thinking in a recent interview with reporters.
“I’m straight up,” Lillard said, per Casey Holdahl of NBA.com. “I’m straight up with Coach, I’m straight up with Neil, I’m straight up with y’all. I’m not unhappy. I love where I live, I love the organization, I love our coaching staff, I love who I am. Like I said last year, it’s the urgency of wanting to make those steps in the right direction so we can compete. You’ve got people out here going all out to try and make it happen and I just want us to do the same thing. I feel like we’re trying to do that.”
Stephen A. Smith recently said on his ESPN radio show that Lillard “is open to leaving, even though he loves playing in Portland.”
Lillard is one of the best players in the league, but he doesn’t get as much recognition and praise as other top players because he plays in Portland.
The All-Star guard has averaged more than 25 points per game in each of the last three campaign, including a 26.9 points per game mark last season. He’s also an elite foul shooter and is among the best in the league at attacking the basket and scoring at the rim.
The Blazers haven’t been able to surround Lillard with much talent, however. C.J. McCollum is a very good shooting guard, but there’s no one else on the Portland roster that opposing coaches are going to lose sleep over. The Blazers have been to the playoffs in each of the last five seasons but with only two trips past the first round. Even though the Blazers finished with the third-best record in the Western Conference last season, they got swept in Round 1 by the New Orleans Pelicans and never had a realistic chance of winning a championship.
Lillard has three more seasons left on his contract, so the Blazers still have time to build a winner around him. They need to start making some moves, though, because several other teams are ahead of them when it comes to being a legitimate championship threat.
Thumbnail photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports