Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard addressed his frustration amid reports that he's planning to request a trade away from the franchise in the coming days.
In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes, Lillard, who is currently representing Team USA in its training schedule ahead of the upcoming pandemic-delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics, noted that changes must be made for the organization to emerge as a championship contender.
"Even when I'm playing well and we come up short at the end of the season, I go home and the first thing I do is look in the mirror and tell myself we didn't win a championship. Or if I didn't play as well as I should have, I’ve had to look in the mirror and tell myself that my performance was unacceptable and I have to do better. And then you go do better.
"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."
The exclusive interview comes on the same day True Hoop's Henry Abbott reported Lillard was expected to formally request a trade away from the Blazers "in the days to come," according to a source close to the All-Star point guard.
Haynes initially reported Lillard was expected to demand a trade away from the Blazers last month, according to league sources.
The initial report came as the Blazers were set to hire new head coach Chauncey Billups.
Yahoo Sports reported none of the candidates who were interviewed were suggested by Lillard, the Blazers' franchise player and, although Lillard and Billups have a relationship, the All-NBA guard is reported to have had no prior knowledge of a past sexual assault allegation against Billups from 1997.
Lillard has been reported to be disgruntled with the organization even prior to the reported hiring of Billups, with some Blazers fans taking aim at him on social media in relation to the coaching search he had no part of in recent weeks, according to Yahoo Sports.
BetOnline (viaOddsShark) listed teams with the best odds for acquiring Lillard in June, which included the following:
- New York Knicks (+250)
- Philadelphia 76ers (+275)
- Miami Heat (+300)
- Los Angeles Lakers (+350)
- Los Angeles Clippers (+400)
- Boston Celtics (+450)
The Knicks currently have multiple first-round picks in the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft, as well as a surplus of young talent coming off a surprisingly successful 2020-21 season.
New York also has a need at point guard as it's expected to let former starter Elfird Payton leave in free agency amid struggles throughout the 2020-21 season, which coincided with former NBA MVP Derrick Rose excelling in a role off the bench with limited, but more minutes played late in games.
The Sixers also have multiple tradable draft picks, as well as reported interest to ship three-time all-star Ben Simmons amid a disastrous performance in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Lillard is coming off yet another strong performance in the postseason in which he willed the Blazers to a six-game elimination by the heavily-favored Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference First Round.
The six-time all-star averaged 34.3 points, 10.2 assists, and 4.3 rebounds during the series after averaging 28.8 points, 7.5 assists, and 4.2 rebounds during the 2020-21 regular season.
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