Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard rejected the notion that a trade request was imminent and said that he plans to be in Portland next season.
Lillard, speaking to the media after Team USA men's basketball practice Friday in Las Vegas, said he hasn't "made any firm decisions on what my future will be."
Damian Lillard says he woke up to reports of him on the verge of requesting a trade “is not true.” And says secondly, “I haven’t made any firm decisions on what my future will be.”
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 16, 2021
On Friday morning, a report from True Hoop's Henry Abbott said that "a source close to Lillard says that in the days to come, he plans to request a trade." Lillard denied that report.
Lillard also said that he is planning to meet with new head coach Chauncey Billups and general manager Neil Olshey later Friday, saying that he wants the organization "to be more urgent" in trying to build a title-contending team.
Damian Lillard: "I don't disagree that maybe Chauncey can change our team and make us a better team. But I think if you look at our team as it is, I don't see how you say 'this is a championship team, we just need a new coach.'"
— Sean Highkin (@highkin) July 16, 2021
Lillard said that he always intended to finish his career with the Blazers, but winning a championship is also appealing and something that he wants to accomplish in Portland.
Will Damian Lillard be traded?
If Lillard were to request a trade, accomplishing it would be tricky. He signed a four-year, $176 million supermax contract extension in 2019 that takes him through the 2024-25 season.
Of course, that hasn't stopped trade rumors from swirling, including notably involving the New York Knicks.
Lillard told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes that the team "must do better if we want to win on that level." From Friday morning:
"I think that's the stage we're at as a team where we all, not just me, not just my teammates, not just our new coaching staff, the front office, everybody in this organization must look in the mirror because we’ve constantly come up short. We have to look in the mirror and say I have to be better because whatever it is we’re doing is not working and it’s not giving us the shot to compete on the level that we want to compete on."
Haynes previously reported in June that the process that resulted in Billups' hiring and Portland's inability to build a title contender could prompt Lillard to request a trade. That request has not happened, but the building pressure on Olshey to make changes is evident.
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