Damian Lillard has tried again to quell speculation that he wants out of Portland, Ros Gold-Onwude of ESPN reports on “NBA Today” (video link). Addressing the media during today’s shootaround, Lillard stated emphatically that he plans to give the Trail Blazers more time to recover from their slow start.
“I’m not asking for a trade,” he told reporters. “… My intentions are to be in Portland and to figure this out.”
Lillard recognizes that injuries and unrest in the organization have contributed to the team’s 11-14 record, which ranks 10th in the Western Conference, just a half-game ahead of the Kings for the final play-in spot. Those injuries include Lillard, who will miss his fifth straight game tonight with an abdominal issue, and backcourt mate CJ McCollum, who is sidelined with a collapsed lung.
Lillard is likely responding to a report Monday that he’s growing frustrated with the Blazers and wants the organization to work out a trade with the Sixers for Ben Simmons. He stated that other people have been speaking for him and said he’s in the office every day with coach Chauncey Billups trying to figure out the team’s problems.
“Why would I be part of trying to find solutions if I’m planning an exit?” Lillard asked.
It has been a difficult season for Lillard, who is averaging just 21.5 points per game while shooting 39.7% from the field and 30.2% from three-point range, all down significantly from last season. In addition, there has been off-the-court strife, with the latest incident being the decision to fire general manager and president of basketball operations Neil Olshey last week following an investigation into his workplace conduct.
Gold-Onwude also talked to Billups, who describes his relationship with Lillard as “strong” and says they are working together to give the team a successful future.