The moment the Portland Trail Blazers selected top point guard prospect Scooter Henderson with the No. 3 overall pick in Thursday night’s 2023 NBA draft — and even before that — questions arose about whether seven-time All-Star Damian Lillard would finally request a trade. do. The only franchise he knows so far.
“I’ve been told the timeline of where the future goes with Damian Lillard extends from this point tonight to the start of free agency and potentially free agency.” Shams Charaniya of the stadium gave information At the end of the first round, “just to see what Portland is capable of. And if Portland is unable to make meaningful enough moves to improve the team, Lillard has made that clear behind the scenes, as I have been told, even publicly, that he does not want to return to a rebuilding position with young players.”
Just like that, Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report report “Lillard has had no recent communication with the Blazers regarding the draft, free agency or his future.” However, he has remained in contact with Henderson.
“Our relationship is going to grow, especially because I’m going there now,” Henderson told SiriusXM NBA Radio, “I think our games complement each other tremendously. I get in the paint and spray him, and I can play defense, and the things he does are obviously fantastic. Looks like we’re going to do great. …
“I think he should stay. I think it would be great to play alongside a guy like Demme, learn a lot, especially how he came into the game so confident and fearless. I would take the same approach.”
According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, they did not intend to trade the No. 3 pick until the Blazers acquired “a select number of premium targets”. Diverse reports are linked From Portland to Zion Williamson, Paul George, Mikal Bridges and Bam Adebayo, but none of those rumors materialized.
The well of potentially available stars who could put a Lillard-led roster into contention in Portland dries up pretty quickly, even if you include some of the above names among them. Jaylen Brown is not keeping the Blazers on top. They have 24-year-old Anfernie Simmons, 20-year-old Shaydon Sharpe, 19-year-old Henderson and several future first-round picks in pursuit of several must-win upgrades, but will earn as much as the foundation of a future contender. To build around them just as, if not more, makes sense.
Lillard entertained several hypothetical trade scenarios earlier this month on Showtime’s “The Last Stand Podcast.” When asked if he would choose to land the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat or New York Knicks, Lillard cited the Heat and Nets given his relationship with Adebayo and Bridges and the roster construction of both teams. This would explain the Portland pursuit of any player. This could also explain why Miami and Brooklyn would not consider an offer for either player, given that Lillard could come to them.
After all, Lillard has gone on record with his disinterest in rebuilding.
“I’m not interested in that,” Lillard told reporters in Los Angeles after his seventh straight loss in March. “That’s the frustrating part of it talking about, ‘Oh, you know, what’s going to happen next season?’ And we’re building. Like, I’m not here to do that, especially at this stage of my career. So, it’s just as exciting to promote the brand of basketball that you’ll probably go on to win — and that’s who we are.” Habit has to be learned – I don’t see it out there right now, Okay, we’re making this drama. we have to start doing that, It’s hard for me to tear myself away from the present, and then move forward excited about what we’re doing and what we can do.”
Both Haynes And ESPN’s Brian Windhorst Lillard has indicated in recent days that Lillard’s stance on the youth movement is unchanged, even though he has publicly stated that he hopes to start next season on the Blazers.
Lillard will turn 33 next month. A year away from the most serious injury of his 11-year tenure in Portland, an abdominal injury that caused him to miss 53 games, he averaged career highs of 32.2 points (on 46/37/91 shooting splits), 7.3 assists last season. enjoyed the year. 36.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds per night for the 33-win team, making the All-NBA roster for the seventh time. How long he can maintain that level is a real question and will need to accelerate his ascent if the young Blazers hope to compete.
Even after this the roster is unbalanced. Lillard, Henderson and Simmons are all 6-foot-3 or shorter, and Lillard’s previous partnership with 6-3 CJ McCollum ended in a singles Western Conference Finals appearance. This is not a move of a team or a jump from the title. They remain goal-bound for Lillard, even if they manage to re-sign free-agent wing Jeremy Grant to a contract that will move them closer to the luxury tax.
So, here we are, with the Blazers resistant to trading away their best young players so far Or Lillard, and Lillard has so far been resistant to teaming with young players Or solicit business. Something has to give, and the NBA front office is looking forward to the moment when it happens, because everyone knows Portland desperately needs to choose a direction.