Damian Lillard has played his entire NBA career with the Trail Blazers since being chosen sixth overall by Portland in the 2012 NBA Draft.
But could his team change in the not-too-distant future? According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, it might.
Haynes reports that two factors may push Lillard out the door in Portland. First, according to Haynes’ sources, Lillard has concerns about whether Portland can build a contender around him. The Trail Blazers have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs four times in the last five seasons.
Second, the sources say, Lillard isn’t happy with Portland’s process of hiring a new coach and the backlash that resulted from the move. Lillard is particularly upset with the way he is being attacked for the Trail Blazers’ reported choice of Chauncey Billups, as Haynes outlined.
Lillard has remained loyal to Portland in large part due to the tremendous fan base. But over the last few days, he’s seen some of those same fans attacking him on social media for a pending coaching hire he played no part in consummating, sources said.
Lillard told The Athletic that he liked Billups and Jason Kidd as potential coaching options after Terry Stotts’ departure. But both candidates came with baggage. Billups was accused of rape in 1997 while Kidd pleaded guilty to spousal abuse in 2001.
As a result, fans went after Lillard on Twitter after the team’s decision to hire Billups. Lillard defended himself in a conversation with one upset fan.
Really? I was asked what coaches I like of the names I “heard” and I named them. Sorry I wasn’t aware of their history I didn’t read the news when I was 7/8yrs old. I don’t support Those things … but if this the route y’all wana come at me… say less https://t.co/N1GPkX3Ohd
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) June 26, 2021
Clearly, Lillard wasn’t happy with the messages he was getting. He sent out a cryptic message from his account the morning after he responded to the above tweet.
“Sometime it’s not the people who change. It’s the mask that falls off”
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) June 27, 2021
Could Lillard be talking about the Portland fans? Perhaps, though only he knows for sure.
Either way, Lillard doesn’t seem happy with those who are pinning the decision to roll with Billups on him.
This may just be some passing frustration from Lillard, but his status will be worth watching during the NBA offseason. He has always expressed a desire to stay with Portland, but perhaps things will change in the wake of this controversy.