In the two months that followed their first-round playoff flop against Phoenix, when Davis’ groin injury left them pulling up lame, the Lakers explored the prospect of trading for such stars as Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan and Russell Westbrook. The process unfolded well beyond the team’s front office’s search, with James setting up a war room of his own at his Brentwood estate for some in-person player meetings while leading remote communications in other conversations.
The group focused first on Lillard and Beal, but with no viable path to trading for either of them, turned their attention to more realistic targets: Westbrook, DeRozan, Hield and Kyle Lowry, who would eventually pursue a deal with the Miami Heat instead.
There are many who believed then and continue to insist now that Damian Lillard was about ready to ask out; a source with knowledge of the situation believes Lillard is held back by both his loyalty to Portland and an unwillingness to go back on things he's already said about sticking things out. He ultimately decided to give this another go, and Lillard has been provided roster upgrades and had a big voice in the coaching search. He may still ask out down the road, but only time will tell how long this honeymoon lasts.
Damian Lillard: Back for more… #RipCity is my city
The 76ers were widely believed to be holding out for a chance to acquire Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers, but Lillard recently said he isn’t leaving Portland, “not right now at least.” As for Sacramento, sources have suggested the 76ers would only be willing to consider an offer that includes De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton. The Kings are unlikely to part with either player, but they can offer Buddy Hield, a prolific 3-point shooter who would space the floor for Joel Embiid; Marvin Bagley III, a former No. 2 pick who has yet to reach his potential; and other assets, including multiple first-round draft picks.
The belief around the league is the Sixers have been holding out for six-time All-NBA point guard Damian Lillard to request a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers. But Lillard said, “I’m not leaving [Portland] — not right now at least” on Wednesday during an Instagram Live stream.
Philadelphia has its eyes set on Portland All-NBA guard Damian Lillard, sources say, but the Trail Blazers have fully focused on continuing to build around Lillard. As of now, Lillard is continuing to evaluate the Trail Blazers’ present and future and is slated to begin training camp with the organization. In some ways, the 76ers are stuck between deciding whether to make a move now with Simmons — or waiting until a star like Lillard shakes free.
Scotto: When you talk to any rival executive, agents around the league, etc. the bottom line of the Blazers is Damian Lillard’s prime is on the clock. It’s like Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny… Neil Olshey is going all-in on Chauncey Billups. This is his guy. They have a relationship dating back to their LA Clippers days together. He’s fond of Chauncey as a leader and thinks he’s the right guy for the job. Ultimately, he’s either going to sink or swim with that hire… CJ McCollum needs to become an All-Star for the first time in his career. He’s been knocking on the door. If they’re going to be successful, he’s got to average 23-25 points per game… Jusuf Nurkic needs to come back and dominate. There was a time where Nurkic was thought to be the third guy. He’s going to need to be that for them now.
Lillard opened up about the trade rumors and explained why he will not play for the Lakers anytime soon. “He said ‘I would bet anybody that when the season starts, Dame’s going to be playing for the Lakers.’ And the Lakers just traded for Russell Westbrook, so I’m not going to play for the Lakers. We play the same position, so [I was] like bet a million,” Lillard told Complex’s Pierce Simpson.
The question on everyone’s mind: Is Lillard going to ask out and leave PDX? So someone asked him when Lillard was on Instagram Live Tuesday night, and this was his response: “I’m not leaving PDX, not right now at least.”
Landon Buford: Damian Lillard on leaving PDX: "I'm not leaving PDX not right now at least," Says Lillard.
Sean Highkin: CJ McCollum on @Adrian Wojnarowski pod on Dame: "I don't want to speak for him, but having a close relationship with him ... I have a pretty good sense of where he's at. His goal is to win a championship. But ... he's all-in. At this stage, I can say he's all-in. He just wants to win."
Lillard goes by the name Dame D.O.L.L.A whenever he raps. This song will surely be a certified banger as the Blazers’ star dropped some solid bars. Dame could have dropped some hints that he is staying put in Portland after rumors swirled that he was extremely unhappy and might soon ask for a trade away from the Blazers. I’m the kind of man to lead his people To the promise land (Promise land) By any means, the hoop rock is not contraband We come from towels on the counter Dryin’ pots and pans and if you not the man Then you support, don’t try to stop the man (Nah)
There's certainly a possibility Lillard arrives at training camp, looks around Portland's locker room and determines the Trail Blazers roster has not been upgraded to his satisfaction. Yet there's a stronger belief in league circles that Lillard will at least venture into the regular season under new head coach Chauncey Billups, allowing him to revisit moving elsewhere before the trade deadline.
Each of Minnesota, Golden State, Sacramento and San Antonio has been consistently linked as a top Simmons destination, yet the overwhelming sense among league insiders continues to be that Simmons, for now, is expected to remain a Sixer once training camp opens on September 28—barring a change of temperature with Damian Lillard in Portland. That appears to be the ever-important undercurrent to what has been routinely described as a "James Harden-like" package Philadelphia is seeking for any Simmons return.
They have a temporary time advantage no one is talking about. There is a good chance the Lillard trade war, should it ever happen, comes down to the Sixers and New York Knicks. (And to be clear: Lillard is not available, and has not asked for a trade, sources said.) Other alternatives will pop up. Any team willing to trade all its future picks and swap rights can butt into the conversation.
As he takes part in the Olympics with Team USA and prepares for the gold medal game against Team France, he is neither happy nor upset with what has gone down this week concerning his Portland Trail Blazers. “Honestly I haven’t really dove too deep into it. I’ve really been focusing on here,” Lillard said Friday on a USA Basketball conference call. “There are a lot of things that are out of my control. When you go into free agency and things like this, you never know what’s going to happen. You never know where guys are going to end up and why they go there. You just try to have conversations and try to convince guys to be a part of our team.”
The Blazers landed Cody Zeller and Tony Snell while also inviting Michael Beasley, Kenneth Faried and Emmanuel Mudiay — all of whom played in China last season — to play for its summer league team. “Obviously, this go-round, we weren’t able to go out there and get some of the guys that we would have liked,” Lillard said. “You know, you go down the list and you go through the guys you like that are out there and haven’t committed to another team or that was a part of your plans in free agency and you get the ones that want to be a part of what you are doing, and I think that’s what we did.”
Goodwill made mention of the New York Knicks’ calculated moves, in how they coallign with a potential Lillard deal, should his relationship with the Blazer go awry. In providing his own outlook on the situation, Haynes had this to say. “I expect Damian Lillard to go and play for the Portland Trail Blazers. I expect him to try out this roster. I believe he wants to give Chauncey Billups a chance. And I think he’s going to go there, give the roster a shot. And Portland’s probably still not done. You know, I’m hearing Paul Millsap, a guy they’re looking at. I’m hearing Kelly Oubre, who’s still on the market, a guy that they’re looking at, so they’re still not done. But I expect Dame to go out there next season, play, see how things materialize, and go from there.
And then you Damian Lillard, who’s been as public as he’s ever been in stating his dissatisfaction with the way things are going with the team and the roster construction. And then you bring on these players, who I’m not saying, you know, Norman Powell they had to re-sign. Five years, they had to. You couldn’t let him go. But outside of that, there wasn’t much done that I think moves the needle. And you brought up that New York angle, you know, from all accounts of what we’re hearing, definitely, the Knicks have an eye on Damian Lillard, so we’ll see what happens from there.”
Tommy Beer: Stephen A. Smith, on @SiriusXMNBA , says that although Dame Lillard has not yet demanded a trade, Smith knows "for a fact" that if Dame were to be traded, New York "would be his number 1 destination," adding "I'm telling you what I know. I'm not guessing."
Tommy Beer: Smith explains that Lillard believes "in the New York market, unlike in Portland, it would be considerably easier for him to pull off getting guys to want to come to play with him... guys like a Jayson Tatum down the line, like a Joel Embiid down the line, guys like that."
In addition, Damian Lillard could still ask for a trade away from Portland and various reports have the Knicks very high on his list. That actually isn’t as good as it sounds, as the Trail Blazers can — and will — take the very best deal, according to league sources. The Knicks have to hope they have a thing for Lithuanian lefty combo guards.
"I have never said that. I laughed when I saw it cuz I've literally never said that. I've been seeing a lot of things being said. I've been as open about the situation as I could possibly be." Damian Lillard on rumors that he'd give up money to be traded.
Abbott went through the details of the two’s public sparring on Twitter and the backlash he received before getting into the conversation with Lillard: “I published it and tweeted it, and then he like, retweeted it with the facepalm emoji, and then he talked to reporters and said that none of it was true. And then, I tweeted … after like a day of epic meltdown, everything in my mentions was a nightmare of people saying I’m a liar and making up stories, I’m bad at my job. And some of that just comes with the business. This was like a lot. I’ve been doing this for a long time. This was a lot. So, then I basically write what you just said Jarod. And then, Damian immediately replied to that saying he doesn’t lie. Then, he started direct messaging me and he’s in Tokyo at the Olympics, so we’re direct messaging, just like hammering away, trying to straighten it out. Then my phone rings and it’s Aaron Goodwin, who is Damian Lillard’s agent. I think I’ve known Aaron Goodwin longer than Damian has. Like, Aaron and I go way back. We’ve been through a lot of stuff, and I hold him in tremendously-high regards in a lot of ways.”
Abbott said that he wouldn’t be transparent about everything he and Lillard discussed when he requested to speak with him. But, he did share a story of Lillard’s positive vibe, even in the middle of the discussion. “Most of what happened on the phone call I’m just not going to share. It’s private. It was Dame and I getting to know each other? Actually at one point, I will tell you this funny part. I’m like, you know, ‘This thing happened, this thing happened, Twitter’s like a warzone for me now, and it’s my birthday. And Aaron starts talking, everyone starts talking, and Dame’s just like, ‘Henry, Henry, Henry, happy birthday, man.’ I’m like ‘Thank you, Dame.’”
Outside of those anecdotes, Abbott said that he called the “Dream Team” of people who would know Lillard’s leverage and control, continually insisting that neither party lied. He noted that there’s only one way out of Portland in Lillard’s case, and it would be similar to James Harden, skipping training camp, having the front office question if he’s going to give 100 percent, etc. The link to the rest of the podcast, for those interested, can be found above.
For all the undeniable tension in the Pacific Northwest, neither Portland nor Lillard is ready to entertain trade possibilities … certainly not while Lillard is in Tokyo trying to focus on the Olympics.
It was made clear, when I checked it out, that Lillard remains the Trail Blazer coveted by Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey. The Sixers know they have to get this right and keep insisting that they are determined not to rush into anything.
CJ McCollum: Lmao Rolling on the floor laughing bruh at this rate we’re going to have to do an emergency press release on my podcast if they keep this up Face with tears of joy
Nate Jones: The story of Dame giving back $ is the funniest thing ever. Same guy that kept his entire per diem for his first two seasons and still approves EVERY SINGLE INVOICE (even as small as hundreds of $) personally. Yep, totally makes sense. @Dame_Lillard
Damian Lillard: 🤦 Henry Abbott: "Sources say Damian Lillard is willing to forgo paychecks to get to a title team, if it comes to that." Did you know Lillard has earned almost $300 million already? A lot of new insight for TrueHoop subscribers: https://truehoop.com/p/damian-lillards-power-play Free preview: https://truehoop.com/p/damian-lillards-power-play-319
On the Lillard front, sources say he’ll continue focusing on his Team USA experience while waiting to see how the Blazers’ roster looks later in the offseason before reassessing his situation. Our Trail Blazers beat writer, Jason Quick, details those sensitive dynamics well here.
Indeed, that Wednesday it was Damian Lillard who complained most memorably. Sources say he told his national team friends that he thought the situation in Portland was getting worse. The next day was his birthday; he would turn 31. He told the group that he had meetings with his team coming up the day after that, and he was thinking about demanding a trade.
He put percentages on it—75/25—which confused people. What did that mean? It meant he would listen to the team’s plans, and if he didn’t like what he heard, he would demand a trade. He estimated he was 25 percent likely to demand a trade that Friday. Whatever the number, some in the room tell TrueHoop they took it as the beginning of the end for Lillard and the Blazers.
Time is on Philadelphia's side. The Sixers are not required to trade Simmons, although the overwhelming expectation around the league is that he will be moved before the 2021-22 season tips. That could occur in August; team executives are anxiously awaiting Damian Lillard's return from the Tokyo Olympics, and a potential trade request that could occur if the All-Star guard doesn't endorse Portland's offseason roster adjustments. "I think Daryl is just waiting for the Dame situation to explode," said one team official.
Beal's potential availability has sparked significant discussion among league personnel, but there appears to be less confidence Lillard will seek a different team prior to training camp. Warriors officials have expressed doubt Lillard would eye Golden State as a destination.
Just over a week ago, Henry Abbott of True Hoop wrote, "A source close to [Damian] Lillard says that in the days to come, he plans to request a trade." A public trade demand has yet to arrive, but executives around the league are closely monitoring the Portland Trail Blazers as the NBA edges closer to the draft and free agency. "It sounds like he is not getting moved anytime soon," one Eastern Conference source told Bleacher Report. "From what I've heard, [Lillard is] going to give it a chance and then decide closer to the [trade] deadline."
That would give president of basketball operations Neil Olshey precious little time to turn his roster from a playoff disappointment into a contender (at least in the eyes of his star point guard). "I'm not sure how Olshey is going to get that done," a former Western Conference executive said. "Everyone in the NBA knows [the Blazers] are up against it. No one is going to help Olshey solve the Lillard crisis."
"New York and Golden State clearly have the best packages for Lillard," the Western Conference executive said. "Philadelphia in terms of draft considerations and young players, [assuming Simmons is re-routed]."
Marc Stein on the Warriors: "The way it was described to me by a team that I'll just say has been monitoring Golden State very closely is they want a star, the Warriors want a star... But, you know, who doesn't want a star? Can you package 7 and 14 picks and James Wiseman and get a star? When we're talking about stars, that's basically code for Bradley Beal, or Damian Lillard. Are either one of those guys really in play at this draft? It's probably more Lillard than Beal at this point but I just think the draft might come a step too soon for either one of those guys to be dealt."
After multiple reports suggested Lillard could ask out of Portland, he clarified last week that such rumblings were inaccurate. Simmons, currently the only All-Star known to be shopped by his team, is also unlikely to land with the Warriors. The 76ers are asking for a massive haul that includes an All-Star-level player. Per a league source, Golden State wouldn’t be willing to give up what it would take to get Simmons.
Marc Stein: Golden State has indeed signaled a willingness to trade the 7th and 14th overall picks, league sources say, but the Warriors are said to be trying to construct a deal that brings back "a star." Star translates to Washington's Bradley Beal or Portland's Damian Lillard — neither of whom figures to be available for a trade package in which, irrespective of how many draft assets are attached, Andrew Wiggins is the standout veteran.
Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who has been rumored to be unhappy with Portland and a threat to demand a trade, was another desired player if he were to become available. But Lillard has clarified he has not demanded a trade and multiple sources said the Warriors don’t suspect Lillard would want to come to the Bay.
Within the Blazers — both on the business side and the basketball side — Lillard’s call for accountability and action has been met with the appropriate alarm. No one yet is convinced he will request a trade, and as one executive put it, “I don’t think he wants to leave. He has built an empire here. But we have to assume he is leaving to make sure he is not leaving.”
As far as Enes Kanter is concerned, all the Damian Lillard speculations are hogwash. In an appearance on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” the veteran big man banked on Lillard’s loyalty as the sole reason for Blazers fans to stop worrying. “I played with Dame two years ago, I played with Dame this year, like I’ve said in many interviews, he’s the most loyal player I have ever seen in the league … I don’t think he’s going to leave. He even said it himself, he ‘woke up to all these trades rumors, and it’s not true,’ and I don’t think it’s true.”
Few team executives expect a Dame deal to happen this offseason. But multiple front-office sources say the Heat, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, and Sixers have recently been the most aggressive suitors.
Front-office executives say that if the Blazers eventually move Lillard, they can expect a return rivaling or surpassing what the Nets gave up for James Harden: multiple young players, plus three first-round picks and four first-round pick swaps. Harden is a former MVP, but he had only two guaranteed seasons left on his contract at the time of the trade. Portland could do even better because Lillard has four seasons remaining on his contract worth a grand total of $176 million. The long-term security in Lillard’s contract could lead to more interest from teams and more return in a trade.
The Sixers hope to enter the Lillard sweepstakes, not settle for McCollum. But there’s pressure on the Sixers front office to maximize Joel Embiid’s prime. And just like Simmons could be better in Portland, McCollum could be better in Philadelphia.
Ian Begley: “Right now, I’m not sure what I’m going to do,” Damian Lillard says when asked if he’s committed to Portland at the moment. Lillard adds that he’s always felt in “my heart’ that he’d spend his entire career in Portland. But Lillard adds that he has strong desire to win.
Chris Mannix: Lillard confirms that he intends to meet with Neil Olshey and Chauncey Billups today, as @Frank Isola reported. Adds that it's not a "big, crazy meeting," just a conversation.
Mark Medina: Damian Lillard: "I have made no firm decision on what my future will be." But he stressed it's not true he wants Portland to trade him
Chris Mannix: Lillard again declines to discuss what will go into his decision making process. Says he will continue to only discuss it with his team.
All Trail Blazers: "We're not even to that point [of Lillard asking to be traded]...As of right now, he just wants to see a change and he wants to get away from the norm. That is his focus." @ChrisBHaynes on Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard is not planning to demand that the Portland Trail Blazers trade him, an NBA source has told The Oregonian/OregonLive.
Henry Abbott of Truehoop.com reported this morning that a source told him that Lillard wants out and will request a trade in the coming days. A source has told The Oregonian/OregonLive that Abbott’s report is not true.
Chris Haynes: Having known you for years and your position, why is this current juncture such a pivotal moment for you? Damian Lillard: There are few reasons: One being I'm not getting any younger. Our environment has always been great. We’re not losing a lot, but we were eliminated by a shorthanded Denver team that I felt we should have beat. I just walked away from that really disappointed. I was like, ‘Man, this just isn't going to work.’ We're not winning the championship, but we’ve got a successful organization. We're not a franchise that’s just out here losing every year and getting divided. We have positive seasons; we just don't end up with a championship.
Damian Lillard: So I feel like at this point, I basically made the decision that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you've always been. Just like I hold myself accountable for a bad performance or hold myself accountable to make sure that I work my ass off when I’m training, I must be accountable for saying what needs to be said even if it's not popular. And that just comes with age. When I was younger, I felt like maybe I'll be out of place, but I feel like I've earned the right to say we must do better. We must do better if we want to win on that level. (Lillard will address a report about his future with the team following Team USA practice on Friday.)
Damian Lillard: 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.
Henry Abbott: Source: Blazers star Damian Lillard to request trade in the days to come. If this is a surprise, you haven't been paying attention. Jusuf Nurkic: Y’all really about to believe a guy with a name Henry abboott 🤖.🤣🤣🤣.🧢🧢
Grant Afseth: Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard has his eyes on the New York Knicks among trade destinations in the event he were to be dealt, per a source. Jusuf Nurkic: What a 🤡 bruh... Keep 🧢 🤡.
If this is a surprise, you haven’t been paying attention. As an organization, the Blazers have been melting since their playoff exit. Coach Terry Stotts was cut loose. Sources say billionaire Jody Allen plans to sell the team. The Blazers are prominent in trade rumors.
Lately Lillard has been with Team USA, mostly in Los Angeles, far from the Blazers drama. (Team USA has a history of inspiring NBA stars to dream of playing together. Time on Team USA bonded Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James before they assembled on the Heat.) Last Thursday, Lillard told reporters he was prepared to do his job “every year like I always do” but stopped well short of endorsing anyone or anything about the Blazers.
Yet even if Morey, deep down, wishes he had a do-over on his January or March dealings, he has shown little inclination to rush into shedding Simmons, which is undoubtedly a nod to one of the most complex situations he has ever faced. All teams covet the biggest stars, but Morey is especially obsessive about it. He will surely tune out the naysayers who suggest Simmons can no longer be the centerpiece for the acquisition of a Bradley Beal-type superstar. Portland’s CJ McCollum has been mentioned often as a potential Sixers target in a Simmons deal; rest assured that Morey longs for Damian Lillard if he is targeting any Trail Blazer.
Anthony Slater: Would the Warriors get involved (in a Damian Lillard potential trade)? Yes. They’d make a call and have already internally discussed the idea, as I’m sure most contenders have, considering the rising smoke out of Portland.
But then there’s the Lillard side. Would he want to come to San Francisco — not his hometown of Oakland anymore — and serve as a backcourt 1B to Steph Curry? My sense is no. And I don’t think any trade or Lillard gets past first base if he hasn’t already approved the landing spot.
Rapper/businessman Ice Cube issued a challenge to Damian Lillard. Cube, real name O’Shea Jackson, is a big Los Angeles Lakers fan. He appeared on Stephen A. Smith’s show on Friday and was asked what advice he would give Lillard regarding the Portland guard’s future. “If you want a championship, he should come join the Lakers,” Cube told Smith. “If you want to just score a lot of points and be the man, stay in Portland. But come win a championship. You deserve it. He’s given a lot to that city. So give some of that love to the L.A. Lakers, man.”
In a Lillard trade, the Knicks don’t want to have their roster ransacked but likely are willing to give up three of their future first-round picks. RJ Barrett is not considered an untouchable in a deal for a superstar, according to a source.
Numerous times in the past Damian Lillard has affirmed he has no intention of wanting to be traded from the Portland Trail Blazers. Dealing with a fresh round of speculation in the wake of a coaching change, Lillard said Thursday he'll keep his thoughts on the direction of the team between himself and the franchise. "Anything that I have to say, I'm going to say directly to [Blazers general manager] Neil [Olshey] and I'm going to address it directly with my team," Lillard said after the third day of Team USA training camp in Las Vegas. "There's really nothing else I have to say about it."
"There's a lot of things being said and sometimes words being put in my mouth and I haven't said anything," Lillard said. "If there is something to be said or if I think something or have something to say that I'm going to say it and I'm going to stand on it."
Every NBA person I talked to said Sixers GM Daryl Morey wants someone such as Damian Lillard in a Simmons deal. The Love/Sexton/draft pick package would have little appeal to him.
J. Michael Falgoust: While #Pacers are open to moving down from 13 or packaging it in a deal, Im told there havent been any talks w/#Sixers who are angling for Lillard. For context about Pacers, they avoid albatross contracts. Had a deal in place for Conley 2 yrs ago nixed by Simon. Too much salary
May 17, 2022 | 4:40 pm EDT Update
David Hardisty: Chet Holmgren says he thinks he can be a “50-40-90 player” in the NBA. He believes his ability to create his own shot and score on his own will be on display.
Callie Caplan: Warriors’ Kevon Looney on Luka Doncic-James Harden comparisons after guarding Harden in past series: “Luka’s able to post up pretty much anybody when he gets his shoulder on you. … The biggest difference is the size. Luka’s really strong. That kind of surprised me this year.”
Sean Cunningham: Anjali Ranadive, daughter of Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, is the new Assistant General Manager of the G League Stockton Kings, according to multiple sources. She is with the Kings in Chicago for the week’s NBA Draft Combine.
Sean Cunningham: Anjali Ranadive will assist all aspects of basketball ops, including G league player evaluations & development, strategy, among others. She’s been with the organization working in the Social Responsibility dept. & she’s excited to bring her passion for basketball to her new role.