Where is Damian Lillard’s head at right now?

The man has been sidelined since late December, resigned to watching his Trail Blazers roster crumble before his eyes. Key contributors in CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr., and Norman Powell traded away for young “talent” and some other things.

Sure, a timeline exists where Lillard stays with the Portland Trail Blazers until his contract expires in 2025, and also one that sees him traded this offseason. But at 31 years old, Dame-Time has no time to waste on a Portland team with no clear objective.

Priorities Must Align with Portland

For years, Damian Lillard has stated that his ultimate goal is to win a championship and that he wants to win with the Portland Trail Blazers. He even said so in a random January 22nd interview supposedly intended to check up on his recovery.

“I’m not in a rush, my number one goal is to win a championship, I gotta be in the best form to make that happen,” he said to the media that day.

If his goal was to discuss his injury that day, why did he bring up championships? Isn’t it funny that Lillard’s best three teammates were shipped out of Portland just two weeks later? What sort of message was the point guard trying to send?

Just before these comments, the Blazers’ front office had been going through a rebuild of its own. Longtime general manager Neil Olshey had just been replaced with the Lillard-endorsed Joe Cronin, and at the time, this new front office had yet to make a move.

However, instead of making moves to bolster the lineup, Cronin’s regime stripped it down to the floorboards. The biggest piece yet to go, Jusuf Nurkić, has yet to commit to the team past this season.

Dwelling in the basement of the Western Conference, the 2021-22 season is already a lost cause for Portland. But after trading away Lillard’s three best running-mates, there are not a lot of moves to be made.

Of the players expected to be under contract next season, only Anfernee Simons would have any trade value. Simons is also the Trail Blazers’ most promising young prospect, and any potential rebuild would assuredly be centered around the young guard.

Trail Blazers Think They Already Have Lillard’s Replacement

I will bet the revenue from this article that over 50 percent of the Trailblazer’s airtime on SportsCenter was Anfernee Simons doing incredible things. Furthermore, it’s all too tempting to overvalue the prospects in your building.

Simons clearly has talent but is he Dame D.O.L.L.A? Debate amongst yourselves, but Cronin’s moves show he’s not interested in rewarding Lillard for his loyalty. Amidst these developments, Dame has continued to beat the championship-or-bust drum.

Despite his famous love for the city of Portland, Lillard will be forced to see the writing on the wall.

A Damian Lillard Trade Isn’t Likely, It’s Inevitable

It’s not “if” or “when,” it’s “where.”

No major free agent would willingly sign on to move to Portland, Oregon.

This summer, Lillard will have to choose between his love for Portland and his “number one goal” of winning a title. If Lillard asked out, his wish would have to be fulfilled if the Trail Blazers have even a shred of self-respect.

Damian Lillard + any other borderline superstar + a competent roster = an instant contender.

The timing is right, the tables are set, and a Neil Olshey diss track may already be on the way.

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About Author

Thomas Christian

Hailing from San Francisco, CA, I had the privilege to bear witness to two 49er SuperBowl appearances, 3 Giants World Series wins, and the greatest basketball dynasty of the 2010s in the Golden State Warriors. Check out my articles writing the Warriors beat or the NBA as a whole for BellyUp Sports, or tune in to my podcast LIVE at 3:05 Pacific every Friday, The GOATED Podcast (also on Spotify, Amazon Music, or wherever you stream podcasts).

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