Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard met last Thursday with team owner Paul Allen to discuss the direction of the franchise, league sources tell ESPN’s Chris Haynes. According to Haynes, Lillard requested the meeting in order to reaffirm his commitment to the club and to receive assurances that Allen remains devoted to putting together a championship-caliber roster.
League sources tell Haynes that Allen was worried in the weeks leading up to the meeting that his star point guard would ask for a trade, but Lillard made no such request. Per ESPN’s report, the 27-year-old did make it clear during the sitdown that he “desperately” wants to win a title in Portland, inquiring about how the Blazers’ brass plans to try to make that happen during his prime years.
The meeting represents the first time that Lillard and Allen have sat down privately to discuss the state of the franchise, but Haynes’ sources described it as a productive session that could lead to more meetings in the future. No one else in the organization was aware of the meeting until after the fact, when Allen informed both the basketball and business operations staffs, according to Haynes.
Haynes’ report also provides a few details on topics discussed during the sitdown, noting that Lillard gave head coach Terry Stotts a “heartfelt vote of confidence.” However, the point guard questioned the front office’s decision to trade Will Barton in 2015, making it known that he disagreed with the move. Conversely, Allen sought an explanation from Lillard for the Blazers’ inconsistent play in the first half of this season. Lillard and Allen also talked about possible trade targets, Haynes notes.
Lillard remains under contract through the 2020/21 season and has shown no desire to leave Portland, but requesting a meeting with ownership signals that he’ll be monitoring the front office’s roster moves closer than ever going forward. With Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, and Meyers Leonard all locked up to eight-figure salaries through at least 2019/20, the Blazers don’t have a ton of cap flexibility, so it will be interesting to see how president Neil Olshey and his staff look to upgrade the club’s roster at the deadline and in the offseason.