Damian Lillard trade rumors: Trail Blazers ‘committed to building winners’ around star guard, GM says

The Portland Trail Blazers are “committed to building winners” around Damian Lillard, general manager Joe Cronin. said in a statement monday. The news comes after a meeting between Lillard and team officials in which the two sides discussed the direction of the team going forward. On Thursday, the Blazers used the No. 3 overall pick to select G-League Ignite point guard Scooter Henderson instead of trading the selection for a win-now asset. That decision led many to believe that Lillard, who will turn 33 in July, would want out to join a team that is better positioned to win now.

However, for the time being, the Blazers are focused on finding a way to build a winner around Lillard without giving up Henderson.

Lillard, whom the Blazers drafted No. 6 overall in 2012, has spent his entire 11 years nba Career in Portland. In that time he won the Rookie of the Year award, made seven All-Star teams and seven All-NBA teams, and led the Blazers to the Western Conference Finals. However, once they got there, the Blazers were defeated by their frequent rival, the Golden State Warriors. Aside from the 2019 playoff round, the Blazers have not won a playoff series since 2016.

Those conflicts led to trade rumors for years. The Blazers, through two separate reigns, never trailed. When the rumors peaked in 2021, they didn’t remove him. Even after he struck a deal with longtime backcourt partner CJ McCollum in 2022, he didn’t fire him. Even after taking Henderson, he insisted that he planned to keep Lillard until he retired. The message remains the same today.

If Lillard does indeed stay in Portland then it would be strange to move. Lillard and Henderson play in the same position. The Blazers have also invested a lot of money in young guard Anfernie Simmons, and last year’s No. 7 overall pick, Shaydon Sharpe, looks like a long-term guard who also needs developmental minutes. It will be tough to find playing time for all four guards without a trade. And then, in the long term, Portland has made a financial commitment to Lillard, who has four years left on his contract at max money. Will the Blazers be able to properly surround Henderson and Sharp with young talent, with Lillard taking up so much space on the balance sheet?

These are questions that will be answered over time, and Lillard himself has yet to address the public since the meeting, so it’s unclear exactly where he stands. However, the Blazers have just stated their position: they do not want to trade their star point guard at this time.

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