Since before the season began, the Philadelphia 76ers have been working hard to find a quality return for Ben Simmons. Almost immediately, team President Daryl Morey set his eyes on Damian Lillard, who has been their top target for months now.
As great as a Dame/Embiid pairing would be for Philadelphia, it's probably never happening.
Unfortunately for Morey, the Blazers have made it clear that they aren't interested in trading Dame any time soon, as Adrian Wojnarowski reported late Thursday evening.
The Portland Trail Blazers have made clear to the 76ers that All-NBA guard Damian Lillard is not available to be discussed in trade talks and franchise has no interest in moving him, sources tell ESPN.
Lillard has repeatedly expressed his commitment to want to remain in Portland on his current long-term contract, and interim GM Joe Cronin has also expressed a strong commitment to continue building the franchise around the All-NBA guard.
Calls for Dame to demand out have increased drastically in the wake of Portland's current struggles. At 11-15 on the season, they aren't doing as well as they hoped.
Still, Lillard has come out and announced his loyalty to the Blazers for years now and that hasn't changed.
"I'm not asking for a trade. I don't know how many times I gotta say it," Dame said earlier this week. "I sit in the office with Chauncey every day. We trying to find solutions. I'm dealing with these people every day that I walk in our practice facility, trying to find solution. Why would I be a part of trying to find solutions if I'm planning on an exit."
The star guard and his squad have a lot of work to do if they want to work towards winning a title, and it could start with significant roster changes. Just because Dame isn't going anywhere, doesn't mean everyone else is untouchable.
In Philly, Daryl Morey is going to have to look elsewhere for his Ben Simmons replacement. His dream of acquiring Lillard isn't much more than a pipe dream at this point.
But, by all accounts, both sides have moved on from a Lillard/Simmons swap.