Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has carried the organization to eight playoff appearances in his nine seasons with the team.
Without a championship roster or veteran head coach in sight, the All-Star’s increasing frustration is reportedly pushing him closer to leaving Portland in the near future.
According to a Yahoo! Sports report released Sunday, “The enormous backlash from the Portland Trail Blazers’ process to hire a new coach and his concerns on whether a championship contender can be built have become factors that may push the franchise player — Damian Lillard — out the door.”
On Friday, the Blazers announced that they would be hiring former Detroit Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups as their new head coach. The upcoming season will be Billups’ first as a head coach. He served as the Los Angeles Clippers’ assistant coach in 2020.
The 2021-2022 season will also be Lillard’s first without former Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, who joined the team in 2012 alongside the young point guard.
Terry Stotts was fired after a Game 6 loss in the first round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks. The Trail Blazers then considered several names in their head coaching search — including Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd — before selecting Billups.
After another failed attempt at reaching the NBA Finals, the 30-year-old Lillard is beginning to look elsewhere for an opportunity to reach the big stage.
Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers agreed to a four-year, $196 million supermax contract extension in 2019, which is set to start in the upcoming season as his $139.9 million contract extension from 2015 expires. Lillard averaged 28.8 PPG and 7.5 AST in 2020.
Drafted in 2012 with the No. 6 pick, Lillard’s heroics, while intriguing to watch, may have more to do with a shallow roster than it does his true abilities. Either way, Lillard still wants to win a championship someday. Or at least survive a first round playoff series.