Damian Lillard removed any lingering doubt about his immediate future, saying on social media Wednesday that he will be back with the Portland Trail Blazers to open the 2021-22 season.
There was speculation this offseason that the six-time All-Star could be on the move, especially after Portland was eliminated from the NBA playoffs in the opening round for the second time in two seasons.
“Back for more …,” Lillard said on Instagram. “#RipCity is my city.”
The photo connected to the post is of Lillard weaving his way through a sea of cameras and Trail Blazers fans on the way to the back of the arena.
The sixth overall selection in the 2012 NBA draft out of Weber State averaged 28.8 points over 67 games last season with 7.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds. He has averaged 24.7 points with 6.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds over his nine seasons, all in Portland.
In 2019, Lillard agreed to a four-year super-max contract extension that will begin with the upcoming season. He is set to be paid $39.3 million by the Trail Blazers this season and $48.8 million in the final year of the deal in 2024-25, per Spotrac.
Future for Damian Lillard with the Portland Trail Blazers
Despite Damian Lillard making it clear he isn’t requesting a trade, there’s still a question about his long-term future in Portland. The future Hall of Famer indicated earlier in the offseason that the status quo was not working in the Pacific Northwest. It led to speculation that fellow backcourt star C.J. McCollum might be moved. With the season slated to get going next month, that has not yet come to fruition.
There’s no telling whether an offseason that included the acquisitions of Ben McLemore, Tony Snell, Larry Nance Jr. and Cody Zeller is going to be enough for Damian Lillard to pitch his tent in Portland over the long haul.
What we to know is that these Blazers can’t be seen as top-end title contenders in the Western Conference. Any objective observer would include that they are a tier behind the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors.
(Field Level Media contributed to this report)