As the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Golden State Warriors, Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard addressed rumors about his unhappiness in Portland.
There’s been a lot of talk surrounding Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers this week, and Lillard has heard enough of it.
As the 11-14 Trail Blazers prepare to take on the 20-4 Golden State Warriors, Lillard has been the focal point of conversation on a struggling Trail Blazers team.
In the span of one week, the Trail Blazers fired team president Neil Olshey, The Athletic released a report that Lillard was unhappy with coach Chauncey Billups, Lillard put out his desire for a $107 two-year contract extension, and CJ McCollum was sidelined indefinitely with a collapsed lung.
In a situation that could easily cause chaos in any locker room, the dedicated ten-year veteran Trail Blazer took a strong leadership stance by dispelling rumors that he is looking for an out from Portland.
“I’m not asking for a trade,” Lillard said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve got to say it.”
Damian Lillard dispels trade rumors as he clarifies feelings about Trail Blazers
Lillard was obviously frustrated with the prevailing headlines, speaking with reporters at length in a two-minute clip explaining why the rumors are unfounded.
“It’s gotten to the point in this era that people can write stories and say things, and ‘I heard this’ and ‘I heard that’ and because of who they are, people take it as like, ‘This is credible.’”
Lillard appears to be referring to The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick, who co-authored a detailed report on how sources close to Lillard described his dissatisfaction with the Trail Blazers. The report lists two primary sources of Lillard’s unhappiness: his desire for a coach more experienced than Chauncey Billups, and his desire to build out a new roster, which didn’t happen in the 2021 offseason.
Lillard said that since he knows the truth, he doesn’t feel the need to defend himself against untrue claims unless he’s asked directly about them.
“I sit in the office with Chauncey every day,” Lillard said, debunking the idea that he is not satisfied with Billups. “We’re trying to find solutions…Why would I be a part of trying to find solutions if I’m planning on an exit?”
Lillard also clarified that anyone who is close enough to be anonymously listed as a “close source” would not have reported these claims to the media.
“I don’t say nothing behind closed doors about anybody that I wouldn’t say publicly or to their face,” Lillard said. “Also, the people that are close in my camp, when I talk to them, they wouldn’t be close in my camp if I felt like they would be talking to these people that I don’t even know.”
While Lillard dismissed the rumors, he did offer a reason for them: they make for a compelling drama.
“People want that so bad, and it’s a good story, and it’s good things to talk about, and they know people are going to entertain it, so they continue with it, but my intentions are to be in Portland and to figure it out.”