Damian Lillard has been one of the best point guards in the league for quite some time now, leading the Portland Trail Blazers to the playoffs year after year. Despite his continued expressions of loyalty to the team, there have been trade rumors surrounding him almost every summer, and many people believe that he should leave the Trail Blazers in order to chase a championship.
This offseason was no exception to rumors swirling around Damian Lillard, and there was even a report that suggested Damian Lillard planned to request a trade from the Trail Blazers amidst their early playoff exit against the Denver Nuggets. Damian Lillard did rebuke that report, and it seems as though he is set on staying with the Trail Blazers.
When speaking to the media recently, Damian Lillard was asked about the constant speculation around his future and the potential of rumors picking up if the Trail Blazers get off to a slow start. Damian Lillard reiterated that he was "not leaving Portland" and that while it's a "popular" idea, it's simply "not gonna happen".
I'll answer that the way I answered it on media day, and the same way I've been answering it. Everybody's been saying what they think I'm thinking or what they think I'm gonna do. But I'm not leaving Portland. And to say that seems credible because of how the whole summer went. I was just trying to encourage the team to get better. 'Let's get better, let's really go for it'. And people took that as "Everything they're saying is true".
But it never came from my mouth. I want to be a part of Chauncey's success, you know what I'm saying? I take pride in being part of his success as a coach. We developed a great relationship before he even became a coach, and even deeper than that. We sit, and talk every day. We talk, we text, on the phone, whatever. I want to be a part of his success.
When I say that, I don't expect all times to be great times. Adversity is gonna hit. There's gonna be some tough times. If it start off rocky or it starts out with a struggle, I won't be happy about it, nobody will be. But I'm not gonna jump ship and bail out when that happens. That's an easy thing and a popular thing to say but it's not gonna happen.
I've seen it too, but I don't really pay it any mind. I think these days, when you push something over and over and over, I've seen it push people to that point, like "Maybe that is what should happen."
But I like our staff. I like Chauncey a lot. I love being a Trail Blazer. I love living in Portland. I love what I've built. Like I said on media day, I want to see it through. A rocky start might be a part of that, but I'm not gonna flip and do something different from what I've always done.
There's no doubt that Damian Lillard's commitment to Portland remains steadfast, and perhaps it'll pay off in the future. Damian Lillard has previously stated that he wanted to win with the Trail Blazers "even more" after watching the small market Milwaukee Bucks win in 2021.
The Portland Trail Blazers will face tough competition in the Western Conference, and many don't believe that they are a championship-caliber team. However, they do have a solid squad, and there have definitely been unlikely champions in the past.