Portland Trail Blazers fans may have gotten their best sign yet that superstar Damian Lillard is committing to the team for the 2021-2022 season.
On Friday's episode of Adrian Wojnarowski's "The Woj Pod," Lillard's teammate and brand new NBPA president CJ McCollum discussed his recent interactions with Lillard. Despite Lillard's reluctance to publicly commit to his future in Portland, McCollum said that Lillard is ready to attack the upcoming season as a member of the Blazers.
“I don’t want to speak for him, but having a close relationship, him, he and I talk every day, or every other day, from sharing memes to sending videos to each other to serious talks about our season, what it takes to win, what it’s going to takes to win a championship, I have a pretty good sense of where he’s at,” McCollum said via The Oregonian. “And I think his goal is to win a championship.
“I think, at the end of the day, that’s what we all want. We want to put ourselves in the best position to win a championship. But I mean, he’s all in. I think at this stage I can say that he’s all in. He just wants to win at the end of the day.”
Lillard's future in Portland still not clear
There have been questions about Lillard's desire to stay in Portland since at least the playoffs, after the Blazers got bounced in the first round. Despite eight straight playoff appearances under now-former head coach Terry Stotts, the Blazers haven't been able to break through and appear in the NBA Finals.
The team parted ways with Stotts in early June and hired Chauncey Billups, who was reportedly not one of the candidates that Lillard had suggested to president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. In fact, Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported that the Blazers didn't interview a single one of Lillard's suggestions for the head coaching job.
After some fans attacked Lillard for Billups' hiring — which Lillard had nothing to do with — rumors surfaced that he was about to ask the Blazers for a trade. He refuted them shortly before the Olympics, but made a point of leaving his future wide open.
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
So Lillard said he hadn't requested a trade, but didn't say he wouldn't request one in the future. Which is why McCollum's update on Lillard, while far from definitive, is good news. It sounds like he's committing to the upcoming season, which makes a trade request a lot less likely — at least for the immediate future. The Blazers haven't done much beyond bringing in a new coach who wasn't Lillard's first choice for the job, so the early part of the season will play a major role in how the chips will fall for the rest of it.
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