Henry Abbott of TrueHoop reported this morning that Lillard intended to ask for a trade within the next few days, citing a source close to the player. However, according to the All-NBA guard, those rumors aren’t coming from him and he still hasn’t made any firm decisions about his future (Twitter link via Chris Mannix of SI.com).
Prior to Lillard’s media availability, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian also disputed Abbott’s report.
Although Lillard denied that any trade request is imminent, he also made it clear he’s not fully satisfied with the situation in Portland and would like to see more urgency from the Blazers (Twitter link via Medina).
Lillard thinks new head coach Chauncey Billups can help the team improve, but doesn’t view Billups as the missing piece, telling reporters that he doesn’t believe the roster as constructed is championship-caliber (Twitter link via Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report).
Frank Isola of SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter link) reported this afternoon that Lillard will meet with Billups and Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey in Las Vegas today, which the point guard confirmed. However, Lillard made it clear that Olshey and Billups were already in Vegas and that it won’t be a “big, crazy meeting” — just a conversation (Twitter links via Medina and Mannix).
According to Lillard, as long as the franchise is taking strides toward competing for a championship, his preference is still to be a Blazer for his entire career. When asked if he envisions himself in Portland next season, he said yes (Twitter links via Marc Spears of The Undefeated).
While the Blazers can perhaps breathe a little easier knowing that they won’t have to deal with a Lillard trade demand in the coming days, the 31-year-old’s comments will put a tremendous amount of pressure on Olshey to upgrade the roster this offseason. With limited cap flexibility and no 2021 draft picks available, Olshey may have to get creative and be willing to take a bigger swing on the trade market in the coming weeks to make sure Lillard is happy heading into 2021/22.