Get ready, Trail Blazers fans. The Damian Lillard rumors are just going to keep coming over the next few months.
After Portland fired president of basketball operations and general manager Neil Olshey on Friday following the conclusion of an investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct, the conversation around the Trail Blazers immediately shifted to Lillard’s future with the franchise. Olshey had consistently pushed back on even considering a Lillard trade, but the next GM could want to hit the reset button considering Portland has lost in the first round of the playoffs in four of the last five seasons and struggled to start the 2021-22 campaign.
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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that Lillard wants to sign a two-year extension worth $107 million with the Trail Blazers, keeping him in Portland through 2026-27, but multiple GM candidates aren’t interested in paying the six-time All-Star big money into his mid-30s.
From Wojnarowski’s report:
The prospects of Portland extending Lillard, 31, beyond his $48.8 million in 2024-25 to pay him $51 million at 35 years old and $55 million at 36 threatens to turn an asset of a contract into an albatross. …
Among several top-level GM candidates who fit the profile of Portland’s applicant pool, there’s no enthusiasm to grant Lillard his massive extension contract through the 2026-27 season. In fact, several executives told ESPN they would be far more interested in the Blazers job with ownership’s blessing to move Lillard sooner than later.
Wojnarowski added that Lillard’s group is “privately selling” the idea of trading the Trail Blazers’ veterans in order to rebuild the roster around Lillard. A separate report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick indicated that Lillard wants to see changes made to the roster and would “like to play with” 76ers star Ben Simmons.
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Is this how Lillard really feels about the situation? Apparently not. He addressed Wojnarowski’s report in multiple social media posts on Tuesday.
On Instagram, Lillard shared a quote: “Gossip may reveal the realities of its subject; it always reveals the bias of the gossiper.”
Then, he responded to a tweet that featured a photo of former President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence shaking hands with the caption, “Woj and Olshey after writing that article slandering Dame.”
“Can’t say I’m surprised,” Lillard tweeted.
Does Lillard believe Olshey is the main source in Wojnarowski’s report? Would he prefer to have some new teammates around him? What happens if he isn’t offered an extension?
Lillard hasn’t discussed the state of the organization with members of the media since Olshey’s firing, as he is still recovering from an abdominal injury. But it’s safe to say that he will have a lot of questions to answer the next time he steps in front of a microphone.