Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard can’t be blamed when he inevitably demands a trade

Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard (Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports)
Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard (Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports) /

A trade demand seems inevitable from Damian Lillard; when it happens, there’s no reason why he should be blamed. It’s on the Portland Trail Blazers.

Last offseason, there was somewhat of an expectation that it was time for Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers to part ways. The team had just traded C.J. McCollum at the NBA Trade Deadline and it was clear that the team was pivoting toward a retooling, if not a full-blown rebuild.

Instead, Lillard doubled down how his loyalty to the team and signed an extension. Heading into the offseason with plenty of salary cap space and assets, it was time for the team to show that loyalty back by surrounding Lillard with a retooled supporting cast.

And the Blazers swung during the offseason. Unfortunately, and it has become clear now, they missed.

The Portland Trail Blazers may need another retooling this offseason

The Blazers drafted Shaedon Sharpe with their top 10 pick, acquired Jerami Grant (from the Detroit Pistons), and then re-signed Jusuf Nurkic and Anfernee Simons, and went out in free agency and signed Gary Payton II.

While those are all fair moves for the Blazers, it simply hasn’t been enough to support Lillard this season. After a somewhat surprising start to the year, the Blazers have fallen off quite a bit in the Western Conference.

Since December 19, the Blazers are just 5-12. They’ve fallen out of the top 12 in the Western Conference standings and with the NBA Trade Deadline just a couple of weeks away, there are big questions that this team may have to answer.

At least for now, this retooling on the fly has not worked and you’d have to wonder what’s next for Lillard who, recently, echoed his desire to win. Simply put, that’s not what’s happening this season so far in Portland.

While Lillard may not indicate wants a trade now, it has to be coming. It seems inevitable at this point. Even more so considering that the Blazers have been a mess in the past month or so and that this is probably a team heading toward another retooling, to a certain extent, in the offseason.

But Lillard can’t be blamed for what will likely come next. He gave it his all in Portland. He was loyal when he didn’t have to be. He continues to say all the right things about being the perfect face of a franchise. The Blazers even tried themselves.

Portland added Grant. They used their top 10 draft pick. It simply hasn’t added up for the team. Nor for Lillard.

It’s not going to happen this NBA Trade Deadline and perhaps not even during the offseason. Knowing Lillard, he may give the Blazers another shot to get it right. But it seems that, sooner or later, Lillard is going to eventually ask to be traded. If he indeed cares that much about winning a championship, it’s coming.

Next. NBA Trade Rumors: 5 teams that must be ultra-aggressive at the deadline. dark

But when it does, he shouldn’t be blamed. Lillard has done enough in Portland. Soon enough, he’ll realize that too.