Following another first-round exit, Damian Lillard published a rather interesting post on Instagram, perpetuating the idea that he might be ready to leave the Portland Trail Blazers.
Of course, not even minutes after the final buzzer, the NBA community was buzzing with trade rumors regarding Dame and his potential next destination.
But according to Stephen A. Smith, who recently spoke with Lillard, the post and its associated caption wasn't a hint he's leaving. Rather, it's just an expression of the frustration he's feeling after a devastating defeat.
“He’s devastated,” said Smith. “Just absolutely positively devastated. He wasn’t casting any aspersions or pointing any fingers at anybody with his Instagram post. He was just saying, ‘yo man, this is real to me. I live this. It hurts like hell to be going home in the first-round. I don’t give a damn what I did or what we supposedly did. We are home in the first-round.’ That is not something he anticipated coming into these playoffs.”
Naturally, it doesn't change what the Blazers have to do. The pressure is on for them to make some serious changes, and we've already seen some take place.
Terry Stotts is gone, and the search for a new coach has begun. Next up might be some trades involving some long-time members of the organization -- including CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic.
At this point, nobody but Dame is really safe.
Hopefully, the team does what it needs to do to improve the roster this offseason, and Dame can get a fitting ending to the 2021-22 season.