In a recent appearance on the BACKONFIGG show on YouTube, NBA superstar Damian Lillard delved into his reasons for wanting to exit the Portland Trail Blazers. Having dedicated all of his 11 NBA seasons to Portland, Lillard passionately expressed that the values and goals he and the franchise once shared no longer align.
“You assert loyalty, pledging allegiance till the end, but it's not just about blind commitment,” Lillard articulated. “I've demonstrated my dedication, and it’s authentic. However, if one day you realize that the other party isn't playing by the same rules, the equation changes”.
Lillard's sentiments echo the age-old proverb, 'actions speak louder than words', suggesting a shift in the Blazers' ambitions, not mirroring his own. This past July, Lillard set his sights on the Miami Heat as his preferred destination, a significant decision following an illustrious 11-year spell with the Blazers, who had picked him sixth in the 2012 NBA Draft.
The previous season saw Portland end at a lackluster 13th position in the Western Conference with a 33-49 record.
Blazers' Draft Decision Irks Lillard
The underlying discord seemed to be the franchise's inability to muster a championship-caliber roster.
After an exemplary career season, the All-Star point guard felt compelled to reconsider his options. Amplifying his dissatisfaction was the Blazers' decision not to leverage the third overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft to acquire a marquee player.
Instead, they opted for Scoot Henderson, who interestingly plays the same role as Lillard. Lillard's legacy in Portland is undeniable. Last season, he recorded averages of 32.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 7.3 assists. Set to earn $46.6 million in the upcoming season, he had also committed to a two-year extension worth $121.8 million in 2022.
Despite all this, Lillard's intent to head to Miami remains. Notably, the NBA has cautioned him and his representatives. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, any remarks implying Lillard might not uphold his contractual obligations post-trade could invite disciplinary actions. Regardless, the Lillard-Blazers saga continues to captivate basketball enthusiasts worldwide.
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