Damian Lillard And The Trail Blazers Know They’re In A Failed Marriage, But Neither One Wants To Upset The Kids

The NBA draft came and went last week and Damian Lillard is still a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. That came as a shock to many who thought Lillard would be gone once the Blazers went ahead and drafted Scoot Henderson with the third pick. But if you’ve been paying attention, this is par for the course for both Lillard and the Blazers.

Lillard, Aaron Goodwin (Lillard’s agent) and Blazers GM Joe Cronin met this week and in a statement from the Blazers Said they had “great dialogue” and are “committed to building a winner around Dame.”

Agents Are Around For Tough Negotiations

This is a typical meeting that happens between a star player and the franchise. But why was Goodwin there? The only time a player brings their agent to a meeting with a team they’re already under contract with is because there is likely to be some kind of negotiation, and it’s usually not polite.

A player of Lillard’s stature has the ability to pressure organizations to make all kinds of moves regarding personnel and coaches. In 11 seasons he’s made seven All-NBA teams and is a seven-time All-Star. What a player of that caliber wants he generally gets.

If the plan was to build around Lillard all along why does NBA news breaker and Lillard confidant Chris Haynes continue to report that Lillard is interested in playing for contending teams?

The truth is Lillard has wanted out of Portland for at least the past three seasons. But he’s hiding behind the fact that he’s never “publicly demanded a trade request.” You know, the scourge on the modern NBA player’s reputation. (See: James Harden, Kyrie Irving, etc.)

But there are all different types of ways to demand a trade. One of them is to have your agent hold the team over a barrel.

When it was clear the Blazers were unable to land another high-caliber talent to play with Lillard, he could’ve easily made his feelings known and forced a trade or left via free agency.

Neither Side Wants To Make The First Public Move

But the two sides have been in this song and dance where neither wants to look like the “bad guy.” So instead Lillard keeps getting his contract extended for big money, handcuffing the team from making other moves, and the team publicly says “we are committed to blah, blah, blah” and it looks good for the fans.

Lillard is the “loyal” guy who wants to stay and win a title and the team is trying hard to do right by a franchise player.

It’s all nonsense.

Lillard signed a four-year $176 million extension that began in 21-22. Exercised his option for next season at $48 million and last summer added a two-year max extension at $121 million that will pay him $63 million for the 26-27 season when he’ll be 36 years old.

Neither side had to move forward with any of this and continue this charade. They could’ve parted ways.

The writing was on the wall with where the Blazers were headed, trading CJ McCollum and drafting Anfernee Simons, Nasir Little, Shaedon Sharpe and this year the aforementioned Henderson, and Kris Murray.

This roster is full of youth and ready to rebuild. It will be years before they are ready to compete for a title. They know it and Lillard knows it.

Lillard made his choice, knowing that the organization wasn’t going to ever be able to build a real contender around him, and he chose the money. That’s not shade or casting any kind of aspersion. Players should be allowed to play for whatever reasons they want. It’s their lives and careers.

But, for the sake of everyone, can they just admit it and move on?

Back to top