It’s no secret that a number of teams would be interested in Damian Lillard if he ever requested a trade or was made available by the Trail Blazers.
The kicker? Neither of those have happened, and there are no clear signs that they’re going to happen anytime soon.
Still, that hasn’t prevented Lillard’s name from being all over the news since Portland’s first-round loss to a short-handed Denver team in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Lillard hasn’t been shy about responding to some of the rumors and has continued to show loyalty to the Trail Blazers.
Damian Lillard trade rumors timeline
On June 27, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that the backlash from Portland’s process to hire a new head coach and concerns on whether the Trail Blazers can build a championship contender “have become factors that may push” Lillard out the door.
Less than a month later, on July 16, Henry Abbott of TrueHoop reported that Lillard planned to request a trade “in the days to come,” citing a variety of reasons.
Lillard was quick to respond to the report, denying that he planned to request a trade, but he also made it clear that he wants to “win it all” and wants the Trail Blazers to “be making strides toward that.”
Lillard expanded on that point in a lengthy interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that was published on the same day.
“I think that’s the stage we’re at as a team where we all, not just me, not just my teammates, not just our new coaching staff, the front office, everybody in this organization must look in the mirror because we’ve constantly come up short. We have to look in the mirror and say I have to be better because whatever it is we’re doing is not working and it’s not giving us the shot to compete on the level that we want to compete on.”
Nearly two weeks later, on July 29, Lillard and Abbott went back and forth with each other on Twitter.
Now ask yourself that same question about me. I’ve been transparent for a decade..I never denied where I stood following the season… don’t loop me in becuz of the state of the game right now. What you are reporting is simply not the facts bro. I’m the ultimate source https://t.co/CF9DM7PeS4
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) July 29, 2021
At media day ahead of the 2021-22 season, Lillard was once again asked about his name being involved in rumors in the offseason.
“A lot of times there was buzz on things people were reporting that never came from me,” Lillard said. “I don’t think it’s my job to control the buzz, positive or negative. I know where my heart is, and my teammates know as well.”
Lillard put it plainly to The Athletic’s Jason Quick days before the start of the regular season: “Everybody is saying what they think I’m thinking, and what they think I’m going to do, but like, I’m not leaving Portland, you know?”
There have been a couple more reports in the months since then.
In what has been a slow start to the season for the Trail Blazers, The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick reported on Dec. 6 that Lillard had grown “frustrated with the team’s play,” adding that tension appeared “to be on the rise between the players and [head coach Chauncey] Billups.”
Lillard took to Twitter to respond.
These mfs love drama too damn much. https://t.co/ej15TkAybZ
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) December 6, 2021
The next day, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Lillard was seeking a two-year, $107 million extension in July, which was causing some turmoil within the Trail Blazers, who were in a state of transition after the firing of president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.
Lillard responded with the following post:
Lillard has preached loyalty to the Trail Blazers time and time again in his career. He went as far as saying his “Achilles heel” might end up being his reluctance to join a super team in a recent freestyle. Still, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that there’s a belief around the league that he could “eventually request a trade prior to the 2022-23 season.”
In other words, we haven’t come close to hearing the end of this.
Damian Lillard possible landing spots
It’s been well reported that the 76ers are interested in acquiring Lillard, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that he is “not available” to be discussed.
Another team that has been linked to Lillard throughout this process is the Knicks. Marc Berman of the New York Post reported in the offseason that the Knicks had “been monitoring Lillard’s situation for months, interested in putting together a package for the Blazers superstar.” ESPN’s Stephen A Smith then reported on Aug. 1 that if Lillard were to get traded, the Knicks would be his “number one destination.”
Other teams that could put together an appealing package — some combination of salary filler, young star, prospects and draft picks — include the Pelicans, Celtics, Warriors, Raptors and Heat. As currently constructed, the Lakers face an uphill battle at making a trade for another star, but it sure sounded like LeBron James tried to recruit Lillard in the offseason, and Lillard is from California.
Damian Lillard’s salary
Including this season, Lillard has three guaranteed seasons remaining on his contract. He has a $48.8 million player option for the 2024-25 season.