Damian Lillard offered a somewhat ominous warning to the Portland Trail Blazers in a new interview about his future with the organization.
Lillard was asked in an interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports whether the star guard felt the Blazers were putting in as much effort as he was to become a championship-caliber team. Lillard responded by saying he had always looked in the mirror and deemed his performance unacceptable when the team didn’t win, and had assumed the rest of the organization did the same.
“I think that’s the stage we’re at as a team where we all, not just me, not just my teammates, not just our new coaching staff, the front office, everybody in this organization must look in the mirror because we’ve constantly come up short,” Lillard said. “We have to look in the mirror and say I have to be better because whatever it is we’re doing is not working and it’s not giving us the shot to compete on the level that we want to compete on.”
Lillard added that the team’s playoff loss to the shorthanded Denver Nuggets was a turning point in convincing him to speak up about the team’s shortcomings.
“We’re not losing a lot, but we were eliminated by a shorthanded Denver team that I felt we should have beat,” Lillard said. “I just walked away from that really disappointed. I was like, ‘Man, this just isn’t going to work.’ We’re not winning the championship, but we’ve got a successful organization. We’re not a franchise that’s just out here losing every year and getting divided. We have positive seasons; we just don’t end up with a championship. So I feel like at this point, I basically made the decision that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been.”
Lillard’s comments come amid rumors that the Blazers guard is poised to request a trade in the coming days. Haynes reported that Lillard will address that report following USA basketball practice on Friday.
Rumblings about a potential Lillard trade have been ongoing for some time now. It’s understandable, as the guard isn’t doing much to hide his frustration with the organization right now. The 31-year-old is prioritizing titles, and the message appears to be that if he can’t get one in Portland, he’ll go somewhere else instead.