Damian Lillard Dunks on Another Report of Portland Trail Blazers Tension and Ben Simmons Trade Rumors
In the last three days, reports on tension between Damian Lillard and Ben Simmons have been swirling. The report that led to today’s story is from ESPN’s Zach Lowe who says he doesn’t know why it happened but there are “rumors” of a rift in the locker room leading up to Portland’s blowout loss against Washington yesterday.
The “ben simmons damian lillard trade” is a rumor that has been floating around for a while. Damian Lillard dunks on the report of Portland Trail Blazers tension and Ben Simmons trade rumors.
Another story arose claiming Damian Lillard is unhappy with the Portland Trail Blazers, continuing a cycle that seems to be engineered to wash, rinse, and repeat for many months. Lillard responded with a social media barrage, attacking the report’s veracity. For the Blazers and Lillard, it’s just another “y” day. That’s despite the fact that the franchise looks to be swiftly nearing a fork in the road from the outside.
After an inquiry into claims of workplace misbehavior, President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Neil Olshey was fired. Whether Olshey’s resignation signals the end of the organization’s black cloud or merely adds another thunderhead to the mix remains to be seen. What is known is that Portland underperforms, often to the point of embarrassment.
Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers, and Ben Simmons are linked in a new story.
The Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard mocked a claim that he’d prefer to play alongside Ben Simmons. For months, the rumor-denial cycle has been going on. | Getty Images/Mitchell Leff
The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick reported on Dec. 6 that Damian Lillard was interested in the Portland Trail Blazers acquiring disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons:
“Sources indicate the Trail Blazers considered the concept of a Simmons deal with Philadelphia under Olshey, including sending CJ McCollum, a first-round draft choice, and a young player like Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons. According to insiders, the 76ers approached the Trail Blazers with a trade proposal that included McCollum, numerous draft selections, and various draft swaps, which Portland turned down.
According to the article, Lillard “would want to play” alongside Simmons. There are many basketball reasons for this coupling, practically all of them are related to Portland’s worst-in-the-NBA defense. Simmons is a talented, switchy defender who has been named to two All-Defensive teams.
Theo Ratliff was the final Trail Blazer to be chosen to an All-Defensive team in 2003–04. (and it should be noted he played only 32 games with Portland after a mid-season trade).
Meanwhile, Portland has lost back-to-back home games by a combined score of 31 and 28 points. Coach Chauncey Billups questioned his team’s effort and pride after the defeats.
In terms of Lillard’s role in this, he’s refuted every media rumor about his discontent with the Trail Blazers since the summer. There are two options available at this time. The first option is to accept Lillard at his word.
Perhaps Lillard is content with his current team, the Portland Trail Blazers.
In 2019, Damian Lillard agreed to a four-year contract deal that would keep him with the team through 2024–25. It doesn’t feature a player option; instead, it’s a one-year deal for $176.3 million to Lillard, including $39.3 million this season.
Lillard responded to the news from The Athletic with a dismissive tweet:
“These mfs are addicted to drama.”
That matches Lillard’s response to a rumor last summer that he wanted to be traded by the Portland Trail Blazers. Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O’Neal, all former Blazers players who are now NBA broadcasters, have indicated it’s time for Lillard and the Blazers to part ways.
Noted Stephen A. Smith, a New York Knicks fan, claimed that his sources suggest that Lillard wants to join the Knicks. SAS, speak it into life.
According to Charania and Amick, Olshey backed off the McCollum-Simmons trade talks because he liked the squad he had put together. Portland has made the most playoff appearances in the NBA, with eight in a row, but has only made it to the Western Conference Finals once.
There is, of course, another option to consider.
Maybe Damian Lillard protests too much.
It’s tough not to wonder whether Damian Lillard’s complaints to every media story that he’s unhappy with the Portland Trail Blazers are nothing more than an elaborate smokescreen, similar to what William Shakespeare penned years ago in Hamlet.
After all, “where there is smoke, there is fire,” as the saying goes. Simply explained, there’s a reason why rumors originate.
Lillard has been with the Trail Blazers for ten years. He’s won Rookie of the Year and been named to six NBA All-Star teams. However, Portland has only been able to convert its regular-season success into one deep playoff run. In 2019, the Blazers advanced to the conference finals before being swept by the Golden State Warriors in a dominating sweep.
Five of the eight straight playoff appearances resulted in first-round defeats. Then there were speculations that Lillard wanted Jason Kidd, the Dallas Mavericks’ current head coach, to come to Portland. Instead, Olshey enlisted the services of Chauncey Billups, a first-year head coach.
The Trail Blazers have a record of 11–13. The only reason their defense is rated 30th in the NBA is because it can’t be ranked much worse. Billups is known for openly berating his teammates. Billups is said to be unpopular in the locker room.
Add in front-office change and rumours of a disgruntled franchise star in Lillard, and you have a recipe for disaster. Is he willing to go? Is he willing to remain while a number of his comrades leave? Whether you believe the reports or Damian Lillard’s denials depends on your perspective.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics. Spotrac provided contract details.
RELATED: Before It’s Too Late, the 76ers Must Make the Season-Saving Ben Simmons Trade to the Panicked Trail Blazers
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