Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers have a high payroll, but they’re not a legitimate championship contender. Superstar guard Damian Lillard wants to ensure the franchise actually has a plan to fix that moving forward.

ESPN’s Chris Haynes notes Lillard and team owner Paul Allen had an approximately one-hour meeting and did not alert other team personnel prior to the conversation. Haynes provided the reason for the discussion:

“Lillard … requested the meeting in part to reaffirm his commitment to the only professional franchise he has ever suited up for, but also to gain assurances that the organization was just as devoted to expeditiously crafting a title-contending team.”

According to Haynes, Lillard did not request a trade in the meeting, which is something Allen understandably feared.

Lillard is under contract through the 2020-21 campaign, so the Blazers have several years of the All-Star-caliber guard if they don’t chase him off before then. However, their continued lack of postseason success could start to influence Lillard’s thinking.

In his five previous years, Portland has reached the playoffs four times but never advanced past the second round. And recently, it’s largely because the team has Lillard, C.J. McCollum and not much else. Jusuf Nurkic is an improvement, but he’s not enough.

Lillard, 27, is currently in his prime and knows the Blazers cannot afford to waste it. The big problem is poor contracts for Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard, each of whom are signed through 2019-20. Portland needs to rid itself of those deals in order to add better pieces, but that will likely require trading draft capital.

It’s a tough situation, and Lillard is apparently willing to keep showing patience with the Blazers. But if things don’t improve, his tolerance may fade.

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This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.

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