Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said he still wants to win an NBA championship with the franchise amid ongoing speculation about its future.
Lillard’s future has dominated the headlines after Portland’s first-round exit last season, and the six-time All-Star continues to be the subject of trade rumors for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The New York Knicks have also been talked about, but despite his frustration after another early post-season elimination in 2020-21, Lillard remains determined to deliver a title to Portland.
“We’re losing to Denver, they were you know unhealthy,” Lillard told Complex News’ Pierce Simpson. “I’m frustrated with the loss to Denver, so we have to do better.
“I’ve always said I want to play in Portland, I want to win in Portland, and I still feel that way. So when I say we have to do better, we have to give ourselves a real chance, we can’t if we come out the first round as we are, then we have to get better.
“Not from the point of view of threatening all of you. It was like if it comes down to me having to move on and do something else, maybe that’s what I need to do.
“But it was like I hadn’t made that decision yet, you know what I’m saying? But the fact remains that I would love to win a championship in Portland.”
Lillard has been named an All-Star six times in his career and has helped the Blazers reach the playoffs in each of the past eight seasons.
It’s his clutch shot that has consistently kept Portland in the mix, and since entering the league in 2012, only Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry (2,460) and James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets (2,125) has made more three-pointers than Lillard’s 2,051.
Portland reached the Western Conference Finals in 2019 but was swept by Curry and the Warriors.
However, this season’s six-game elimination at the hands of the Denver Nuggets was their fourth first-round elimination in five seasons and led to the Blazers parting ways with head coach Terry Stotts. Chauncey Billups is the man now tasked with leading them to their first NBA final since 1992 and their first championship since 1977.
“You get into a position where it’s like, ‘Am I going to defend myself or just don’t say anything.’ For me, if I just hear things that aren’t the facts, I’m going to say I didn’t say that,” Lillard told The Athletic as he addressed trade speculation.
“Some things I just have to say. I know what the truth is. I know where I stand. It’s not my duty to let the public know… it’s not my job to make them aware of what that is.
“It’s definitely been different. I feel like I’ve tackled it like I’ve tackled everything. I just let it happen. I let people talk and just stay true to who I am and that’s where I stand.
“When I say something, I stand by what I said. It is what it is, right now.”