Speaking to reporters at Wednesday’s shootaround, Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard had something to get off his chest.
“It’s not accurate,” said Lillard of speculation surrounding his future in Portland. “[The media] can keep talking about it all they want and I’m going to keep saying the same thing.”
It’s been rumored for months now that Lillard, already the second-leading scorer in franchise history, wants out of Portland, a sentiment the six-time All-Star dismissed Wednesday as patently false. “Any time you’re desired it’s a compliment,” the 31-year-old relayed to Jason Dumas of KRON4 News and 95.7 The Game. “Now that we’re off to a slow start, we’re struggling and we’ve had some commotion around our team, everybody’s just speaking for me. ‘Dame’s going to act out. Dame is waiting to see how it goes.’ But I know the truth.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote in an article earlier this week that Lillard’s been angling for a two-year, $107-million extension, a claim the 31-year-old appeared to refute on social media, alluding to Woj’s report in an Instagram post about “gossip.”
“There was an article that came out this summer where somebody’s like, ‘I know from a source that was at Dame’s birthday party in Vegas that said in two days he’s going to ask for a trade.’ And I’m like, that wasn’t said because I’m not asking for a trade,” said Lillard. “Here we are months later, and I’m still in the same uniform.”
Lillard has been linked to both his hometown Warriors (his opponent Wednesday night) and the 76ers, who are seeking a trade partner for disgruntled point guard Ben Simmons. Those rumors have only intensified with the underachieving Blazers off to a disappointing 11-14 start under rookie coach Chauncey Billups. But even with the sky falling in Portland (GM Neil Olshey was fired last week, the result of a monthlong investigation into allegations of bullying and creating a toxic workplace), Lillard remains firmly committed to the team that drafted him sixth overall in 2012.
“I’m not asking for a trade. I don’t know how many times I have to say it,” insisted Lillard, who, at times, has looked preoccupied this season, averaging his fewest points per game (21.5) since 2015. “My intentions are to be in Portland and to figure it out.”