Lillard has said numerous times that he prefers to remain with the Trail Blazers, but only if the team is able to compete for a title. He noted the good fortune that the organization received by landing the No. 3 pick in this year’s lottery and seemed to send a message to Blazers management to use it wisely.
“I want to have an opportunity to win in Portland,” Lillard said. “… We got an opportunity, asset-wise, to build a team that can compete. If we can’t do that … then it’s a separate conversation we would have to have.”
Lillard made a statement after the end of the regular season that he’s “not interested” in rebuilding and wants the front office to seek out veterans rather than add more young talent in the draft. The Blazers are widely reported to be doing just that, shopping their first-rounder to see what they can get in return.
While Lillard has never directly asked Portland’s management for a trade, rumors that’s he’s unhappy with the direction of the organization have persisted for a long time. The team has missed the playoffs the past two years, even though Lillard is coming off the highest-scoring season of his career.
In the interview, Savage asks Lillard if it’s time for the Blazers to move him to a contender.
“I think that’s a loaded question,” Lillard responded, “because they could trade me to somewhere that we all say, you know, ‘This is a contender.’ But what is it going to cost for me to get there? What is it going to cost that team that we’re saying is a contender for me to get there? And how is it a guarantee that we’re gonna be playing in June when I get there? How do we know if everybody’s gonna be healthy? How do we know if it’s gonna work out?”
Lillard stated that he doesn’t want to end up in a situation like Russell Westbrook did with the Lakers. Although there was optimism when Westbrook arrived, he quickly became an outcast in L.A. and Lillard said the team “had him coming off the bench like he’s not a Hall of Famer.”
Lillard admits nothing is guaranteed no matter where he goes, but added that he has made his wishes clear to Blazers management.