Damian Lillard has been linked with a move away from Portland in recent months. Although the player has made it clear he doesn't want to leave the Trail Blazers, if they don't surround the All-Star with the right help, there won't be more remedy than trading him.
In the past couple of months, he's been linked with several teams, with the Philadelphia 76ers looking like a strong candidate to acquire the player's services. Further, another Eastern Conference franchise could get Dame if he requested a trade, which could happen sooner than expected.
Gregg Swartz of Bleacher Report writes that Lillard can easily start the season with the Blazers, but he'll realize he'll need to find a new home to compete for an NBA championship. That team would be the Boston Celtics, who would send Jaylen Brown and another young player (Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard) before Christmas.
With no official trade request to date, Damian Lillard and his four-year, $196 million contract are still in Portland, for now.
With teammate CJ McCollum claiming that Lillard is "all-in" via ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and The Woj Pod, we can expect the pair to at least begin the season with the Blazers and give new head coach Chauncey Billups a chance.
At some point, however, Lillard is going to realize that the talent around him is just not good enough to win a title.
Even though Lillard should begin the season with Portland, a trade to the Boston Celtics won't take long. Much like James Harden playing just eight games with the Houston Rockets last season before being dealt to the Brooklyn Nets, Lillard to Boston will be the next early-season blockbuster.
The Blazers have a lot of work to do if they want to retain Lillard beyond this season. The 31-year-old has urged the team's front office to get the right pieces to compete in a conference that gets harder every year.
This is do-or-die for Portland, and it doesn't look like Chauncey Billups will have the chance to coach Dame for a long time. If it's not the Celtics, more teams in the league will be happy to land Lillard.