Under normal circumstances, a rumored Damian Lillard trade request wouldn’t have any particular effect on Philadelphia 76ers fans beyond that of the average NBA fan. However, during an offseason when Ben Simmons is reportedly holding down a spot on the trade block, it’s pretty big news.
That’s exactly the situation we find ourselves in following a True Hoop report that Lillard wants out of Portland. Of course, the Trail Blazers will ultimately decide where Lillard plays next season. But if they decide to bring an end to the Lillard era, Philly would be in a unique spot to potentially acquire the six-time All-Star in a Simmons-centric trade.
But is Dame really ready to pull the plug on his Blazers career? Or is he committed to honoring the multi-year extension he signed two years ago?
During his latest post-practice media session with USA Basketball in Las Vegas, Lillard set the record straight on reports that he is angling to engineer his exit.
The latest Sixers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Sixers newsletter here!
Join Heavy on Sixers!
Damian Lillard Denies Reports He Will Request Trade
To the surprise of no one, Lillard’s future with the Blazers was the topic du jour during his Friday media session. However, when he was asked about the reported trade request, he issued a fairly strong denial.
“I woke up to those reports, a lot of people reaching out to me. But it’s not true. I’ll start off the rip and say it’s not true,” Lillard declared.
Lillard’s team failed to escape the first round of the NBA Playoffs for the fourth time in five years this season, which has prompted hoops scribes to press him on his mindset going forward. However, he has consistently rebuffed the notion that he has issued any kind of demand to the Blazers’ front office.
“I said the last time that I spoke to you guys that a lot of things are being said and it hasn’t come from me,” he said. “So, number one, it’s not true. And secondly, I’ll also say that I haven’t made any firm decision on what my future will be. So, there’s really no need for anyone else to speak for me or report this or report that.”
He further revealed that he expects to be in a Blazers uniform in 2021-22.
Dame on the Billups Hiring, Potential Roster Moves
During his media session, Lillard was also asked about the direction the Blazers franchise has taken in recent weeks. Specifically, reporters tried to pin him down regarding Portland’s somewhat controversial hiring of Chauncey Billups as head coach.
In his eyes, Billups could be a difference-maker in terms of how the team performs on the court. However, he pushed back against the sentiment of Blazers GM Neil Olshey that the coaching change supersedes the team’s roster issues.
“I don’t disagree that maybe Chauncey can change our team and make us a better team,” he said. “But I think if you look at our team as it is, I don’t see how you say ‘this is a championship team, we just need a new coach.’”