Damian Lillard is one of the best players in the NBA, and he has had yet another stellar season as the face of the Portland Trail Blazers. However, their playoff run was disappointing this season, and there's no question that most people would have expected them to beat the Jamal Murray-less Denver Nuggets. That was through no fault of Damian Lillard's though, as he averaged 34.3 PPG during that series.
After their playoff flameout, there was a lot of speculation about a Damian Lillard trade. There were even some reports that Damian Lillard planned to request a trade from the Trail Blazers, though they were shut down by Lillard himself, and he's recently stated that he wants to win a championship "even more" with the Portland Trail Blazers after watching the Milwaukee Bucks win in the Finals.
The Portland Trail Blazers hired a new coach during the offseason in Chauncey Billups. It seems as though Damian Lillard was impressed with Billups' coaching skills, as he stated that Billups "has a player's mind" and that it's "smarter instead of harder" with him.
In a recent interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio, Chauncey Billups revealed an important message he told Lillard. Billups told Lillard that he came to the Trail Blazers to coach Lillard, but that he wasn't going to be "preaching" for him to stay or leave the franchise.
Of course, I want to coach you. I came here to coach you, but it's your career, it's your life and it's your family. I've been there before, and I'm not going to be the guy preaching "Stay here, go there, do this."
No, I got a job to do, I want to do it with you, obviously. But if at some point you deem "Hey, another place is another place for me", that's not going to be an indictment on myself. That's going to be you making a decision for you and your family.
I think that's what having a player that's been in your position is about. I'm not going to selfishly say "You have to stay, you have to stay". Nah, Nah. Cause I got a lot of other guys that I'm respondible to coach as well, but we all know we want to keep Damian Lillard.
I think Damian wants to say, and as you've heard from him... Dame is all-in.
Perhaps a coaching change can revitalize a franchise that has not managed to make it out of the first round for two seasons. Coaching changes can certainly be impactful, and we've seen what Nate McMillan was able to do with the Hawks despite their torrid start to the season.
Damian Lillard is a player that's had many heartbreaks in the playoffs, and hopefully, at some point, he is able to compete for a championship. It remains to be seen if the current Trail Blazers core and continuity is enough to win at the highest level, but it certainly seems as though the team and Lillard believe that it is.