Videos by OutKick
“I’ve got 10 toes in Rip City.”
That was the response from Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard on Monday night when asked about his status in Portland after a 113-103 loss to the 76ers. Lillard, 31, is at the peak of his ability but rumors have been swirling all year that he could want out of Portland. Lillard is off to a slow start this season, averaging 18.6 PPG, 8.6 APG and 4.0 RPG.
With 76ers guard Ben Simmons actively looking to get out of Philadelphia, a hypothetical swap between the two All-Stars appears to make sense. Portland, however, reportedly has no interest in flipping Lillard for just Simmons. With Portland off to a 3-4 start, the City of Brotherly Love took it upon themselves to recruit Lillard while he was at the charity stripe.
“The City of Brotherly Love … they showed me love,” Lillard said.
The Trail Blazers have been a perennial playoff team with Lillard leading the way but have suffered four first-round playoff exits in the last five seasons. The lone outlier was the 2018-2019 season, when Portland made the Western Conference Final. They were then bounced in four games by the Warriors. That felt like the peak of Portland with Lillard, as big free agents have never looked to head west to give the six-time All Star some help.
Lillard and fellow guard CJ McCollum form one of the best backcourt duos in the NBA, but their partnership feels stale. It’s much more likely Portland sends McCollum Philadelphia’s way for Simmons, keeping Lillard a Trail Blazer.
Staying in Portland is what Lillard wants, and he’s been consistent on that. Lillard sat down over the summer with The Athletic’s Jason Quick and reaffirmed that.
“Everybody is saying what they think I’m thinking,” Lillard said. “And what they think I’m going to do, but like, I’m not leaving Portland, you know?”