Damian Lillard's future has been the subject of great speculation over the last year or so even though Dame has always professed an interest in staying with the Portland Trail Blazers. Rumors gained some momentum after Portland seemingly blew up their team by trading Norman Powell to the Clippers and subsequently sending CJ McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans, getting no significant players in return.
However, it seems the move was just one to create space so that they can aggressively build around Lillard, who the organization expected to stay on with the team. Any speculation that Portland's hopes may have been wishful thinking were ended by Lillard himself, who has revealed his faith in the plan he and the franchise have come up with to ensure that they can challenge for the NBA title shortly.
“For me, my heart is Portland Trail Blazer. I want to win it. I know that I have a plan that’s going to put me on my best level when I come back to play. And I want our team to fit that.”
Lillard is currently rehabbing from injury and will miss what seems to be the rest of this season as the Blazers are reportedly in no rush to bring him back. He underwent abdominal surgery on Jan 13th and is expected to be re-evaluated in March but it is possible that the Blazers don't reactivate him this season and aim for a good draft pick instead. This would also make sense considering they have just traded away McCollum and Powell.
In any case, the 31-year-old is crucial to Portland's plans, and the fact that he has bought into a project once again showcases his loyalty to the franchise. Whether they will be able to attract top talent with the cap space they have created remains to be seen but this is a gamble for Lillard in what will be the last few years of his prime as a basketball player.