Damian Lillard will wait to see what the Trail Blazers do during the offseason before making a decision on his future, a person close to the star guard told Jabari Young of CNBC. Lillard has stated repeatedly that he wants to stay in Portland and help the franchise win a title, but that could change if he’s not convinced that the Blazers are moving in that direction. The team’s willingness to pay the luxury tax could figure into the decision, Young adds.
Lillard is under contract for the next three seasons and Portland has no plans to trade him, but he could change the situation by requesting a deal. He is coming off the best playoff series of his career, averaging 34.5 PPG in the six-game loss to the Nuggets. It marked the fourth time in five years that Portland was eliminated in the first round, and Lillard could be pondering a move to a more legitimate title contender.
The Blazers began what could be an offseason of change Friday night when they announced that coach Terry Stotts won’t return next season. Lillard quickly made a statement about his coaching preferences, with Jason Kidd and Chauncey Billups topping the list.
Another factor will be what Portland’s management decides to do with the roster, and especially Lillard’s backcourt partner, CJ McCollum. Young notes that the Cavaliers have been mentioned as a possible destination for McCollum and the Spurs have considered him as well, although they aren’t currently considering an offer.
Young cites a Western Conference executive who believes the Clippers may try to move Paul George if they don’t make a long playoff run, adding that a deal involving McCollum and George is conceivable. The Heat could also be a destination, though they might prefer to target Lillard.
There’s more from Portland:
- The Blazers will replace their coach, but general manager Neil Olshey’s job appears to be safe, Young adds. Ownership sees him as a “solid executive” who has done as much as possible within budget limitations to build a competitive team around Lillard.
- Several teams around the league, including many in “top markets,” are keeping an eye on Portland to see if Lillard might become available, sources tell Shams Charania and Jason Quick of The Athletic.
- Stotts wrote a farewell letter thanking the organization, players and fans for his experiences during the past nine years as head coach.