There has been widespread speculation about the future of franchise legend Damian Lillard with the Portland Trail Blazers.
As loyal as any player in the NBA, Lillard has been frustrated over the team’s inability to contend for a title over the past several years. This was taken to a whole new level during a 2022-23 season in which Portland lost 49 games and sat him for the final 10 games in order to tank for a higher NBA Draft pick.
Since then, rumors have come from the Pacific Northwest that Portland will look to build a contender around Dame this summer. This is the clear indication that general manager Joe Cronin and Co. believe he’ll be back with the team for a 12th season.
Appearing recently on The Last Stand podcast with Brian Custer, Lillard pretty much confirmed this. When asked if he believes he’ll be back in Portland next season, the seven-time All-Star responded, “I do.”
This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. There haven’t been many reports or rumors suggesting that Lillard will request a trade. That’s the only way Portland would move one of the best players in franchise history.
NBA Draft could dictate Damian Lillard’s future with the Portland Trail Blazers
With all of that said, things can change on a dime. Lillard made it clear during the end of the 2022-23 season that he is not interested in continuing with a rebuild. He wants a win-now mentality from the powers that be in Portland.
“That’s not what I’m interested in. That’s what the frustrating part of it is. Talking about what’s gonna happen next season. And us building. That’s not what I’m here to do especially at this stage of my career.”Damian Lillard on the Portland Trail Blazers’ current situation
This includes moving off the No. 3 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft as part of a package for a proven star.
Portland has been linked to numerous trades with the draft roughly two weeks away. It is willing to part with the third selection. The likes of Toronto Raptors forwards Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby have been bandied about.
Complicating things further is the Blazers’ unwillingness to part with 2022 lottery pick Shaedon Sharpe. It might require moving the 20-year-old wing and the third pick to get an All-Star caliber player back in return.
At this point, we expect that situation to come to a culmination during the 2023 NBA Draft on June 22. Teams interested in moving up to the third selection are targeting either Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller. One of them will go off the board at two to the Charlotte Hornets, creating some drama once the Portland Trail Blazers find themselves on the clock.