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Blazers GM Candidates Want To Trade Damian Lillard 'Sooner Rather Than Later'

Damian Lillard

For the past nine years, Damian Lillard has been the heart and soul of the Portland Trail Blazers. A 6x All-Star and 6x All-NBA player, his play has put Portland on the map in the Western Conference.

Amid the team's search for a new GM, Dame is hoping to secure a $107 million extension that will keep him in town for many years to come.

Interestingly, league executives aren't so eager to make that extension a reality.

In a report by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, he details the hesitation some have expressed in locking up Lillard long-term.

In the past year, Lillard and his camp have been thwarted on several leverage plays -- Jason Kidd as coach, trading CJ McCollum and four first-round picks for Ben Simmons. Most of all, they lost the confidence that the Blazers had a top basketball executive and ownership willing to make Lillard's contract the highest single-season deal in league history at $55.3 million in 2027.

With four seasons -- including an opt-out -- left on his deal, Lillard had no leverage to choose his next team over this past summer. If Lillard asked out, he would've gone where Portland could get the best package of young players, draft picks and salary-cap relief. Asking for New York and Philadelphia makes for dramatic storylines, but the multiple years on his deal would've emboldened several small and non-destination markets to engage with Portland's steep asking price.

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.

Dame, who is owed more than $175 million in the next few years, has proven to be among the league's best scorers. During his best season in 2019-20, Dame averaged 30 points, 8 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game on 46% shooting.

This season, things have gotten pretty ugly. Dame is out with an abdominal injury, the team is 11-14, and the front office is still trying to pick up the pieces in light of the Neil Olshey scandal.

Whoever comes in as the next GM will have a number of things to consider, and not the least of which is the future of Damian Lillard.