A report this morning by Henry Abbott of TrueHoop states that Lillard plans to ask for a trade within the next few days, citing a source close to the player. Lillard will presumably address that report at his session with the media. He risks a fine from the league for making a public trade request, so anything less than a full denial would set off alarms in Portland.
This isn’t the first time that rumors have emerged that Lillard might want to move on. He has been with the Trail Blazers throughout his nine years in the NBA and has talked in the past about wanting to spend his entire career with one organization. But Portland has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, including a loss to an undermanned Nuggets team this years, and recently underwent a coaching change, with Chauncey Billups replacing Terry Stotts.
Lillard, who has called the 2020/21 season the most frustrating year of his career, discussed why this is such an important time in his career during an interview with Haynes.
“There are few reasons: One being I’m not getting any younger. Our environment has always been great,” Lillard said. “We’re not losing a lot, but we were eliminated by a shorthanded Denver team that I felt we should have beat. I just walked away from that really disappointed. I was like, ‘Man, this just isn’t going to work.’ We’re not winning the championship, but we’ve got a successful organization. We’re not a franchise that’s just out here losing every year and getting divided. We have positive seasons; we just don’t end up with a championship.
“So I feel like at this point, I basically made the decision that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been. Just like I hold myself accountable for a bad performance or hold myself accountable to make sure that I work my ass off when I’m training, I must be accountable for saying what needs to be said even if it’s not popular. And that just comes with age. When I was younger, I felt like maybe I’ll be out of place, but I feel like I’ve earned the right to say we must do better. We must do better if we want to win on that level.”
Besides suggesting that Lillard intends to request a trade, Abbott also says within his report that Blazers owner Jody Allen may be looking to sell the franchise. If one or both of those claims are true, an already-eventful offseason in Portland will get even more interesting.
Lillard is expected to be available to reporters at about 2:30 pm CT this afternoon, as Chris Mannix of SI.com tweets.