Updated: Sep 26
One name that continues to circulate in trade rumors is Damian Lillard, the heart and soul of the Portland Trail Blazers. After "quietly" making a request at the beginning of the summer, the Trailblazers have taken calls all offseason about their seven-time All-Star. As the whispers of a potential trade grow louder, fans and analysts alike are left wondering: What's next for the Blazers?
Since being drafted by the Blazers in 2012, Damian Lillard has been the face of the franchise, earning the nickname "Dame Time" for his clutch performances and unwavering commitment to the city of Portland. Over the years, Lillard has etched his name in the franchise's history books, becoming the all-time leading scorer and cementing himself as one of the league's elite point guards.
However, despite Lillard's individual brilliance, the Blazers have failed to secure an NBA championship during his tenure. The closest they came was in 2019 when they reached the Western Conference Finals but fell short against the Golden State Warriors. As Lillard is in his early 30's the question arises: Is the potential trade to get out of Portland or classic ring chasing? There are people on both sides of the argument, but some conclusions are obvious.
For the Blazers, trading Damian Lillard would undoubtedly be a difficult decision, even with the star pushing for it. He is not only their best player but also the face of the franchise, who has, over the years, been quite vocal about loyalty. That all seem to change after the 2023 NBA Finals. Watching the Miami Heat fall to the NBA Champion Denver Nuggets, was hard for any NBA fan. However, Portland must consider the long-term implications of their choices. Lillard is under contract until 2025. A potential trade now could provide the Blazers with valuable assets, such as young talent and draft picks, to rebuild and prepare for the future. It would also give Lillard the opportunity to compete for an NBA championship, a goal that has eluded him thus far in his career.
Trade rumors involving "Dame-Time" have intensified over the last month, with several teams reportedly interested in acquiring the perennial All-Star. Teams such as the Raptors, Bucks, and Heat all have shown interest and appear to be frontrunners. NBA GM's and executives around the league believe that trade is around the corner. ESPN NBA insider Marc Spears seems to confirm those thoughts on NBA Today with Malika Andrews stating, “I also hear from those same GMs that they don’t expect Dame to end up being in Portland on Media Day on Monday," "They think he’ll be gone."
As we all wait in anticipation for the NBA landscape to change, it will be interesting to see where he lands. If Damian Lillard is eventually traded, it will mark the end of an era in Portland. His loyalty and commitment to the city and the franchise have endeared him to fans, and he will always be remembered as one of the greatest Blazers of all time. Whether he stays in Portland or embarks on a new chapter with another team, Damian Lillard's impact on the game of basketball and the city of Portland will endure. His clutch performances, leadership, and dedication to his craft have left an indelible mark on the sport, and that legacy will continue to shine brightly no matter what jersey he puts on next season.