Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard plans to keep any further discussion about his future in Portland private, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. There has been speculation that Lillard might request a trade from the organization where he has spent his entire nine-year career in the wake of a disappointing first-round playoff exit and a coaching change.
Asked to comment on the rumors this week at Team USA’s training camp in Las Vegas, Lillard said he will handle the situation behind closed doors.
“Anything that I have to say, I’m going to say directly to (Blazers general manager) Neil (Olshey) and I’m going to address it directly with my team,” Lillard said. “There’s really nothing else I have to say about it.”
Lillard, who will turn 31 this week, is a six-time All-Star and one of the most prolific scorers in the league. However, Portland has been bounced from the playoffs in the first round in four of the past five seasons and may be entering a transition phase. Even so, Lillard pointed out that he hasn’t made any negative public comments about the franchise.
“There’s a lot of things being said and sometimes words being put in my mouth, and I haven’t said anything,” he said. “If there is something to be said or if I think something or have something to say that I’m going to say it and I’m going to stand on it.”
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- The Thunder have collected draft assets by taking on large contracts from other teams, and Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman wonders if the Sixers‘ Ben Simmons could become a target. Mussatto suggests offering Philadelphia Kemba Walker, who was recently acquired from the Celtics, along with Ty Jerome and the 16th and 18th picks in this year’s draft. Simmons, whose future with the Sixers is uncertain after a shaky shooting performance in the playoffs, is owed more than $146MM over the next four seasons.
- In a mailbag column, Mike Singer of the Denver Post speculates on the future of Nuggets big man Bol Bol, who barely played after signing a two-year contract last offseason. Singer notes that Bol only saw a combined 26 minutes in April and seemed to fall behind Zeke Nnaji and Vlatko Cancar on the depth chart.
- Singer also cites “chatter” about a possible extension for Nuggets guard Will Barton, who has a July 17 deadline to decide on a $14.6MM player option for next season. Singer states that there’s a lot of “goodwill” between the organization and Barton, who is projected to be a starter if he returns.