After years of coming close but always falling short, the team seems to be even further away from their chances at title contention this year.
The Blazers are currently 11-15 and 11th in Western Conference.
Recently, more reporting came out that said Lillard was disappointed with the team and was more inclined than ever to part ways after this season was over.
Lillard being Lillard, he took to social media to decry the rumors:
These mfs love drama too damn much. https://t.co/ej15TkAybZ
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) December 6, 2021
Despite what Lillard publicly says, it’s all but assured that he’s not happy right now – and he has plenty of reasons to not be.
What are the two biggest things that are pushing the All-Star point guard further and further away from the only team he has ever called home?
2. The Rise Of Others
Since that draft, Lillard has been the front-and-center face of the Blazers and has become a hero to the team and its fans.
However, they haven’t come close to winning a Finals while some of his draftmates have come close – and even secured a ring.
The furthest Lillard has ever come to winning a championship was when the Blazers made to the 2019 Western Conference Finals and were swept by the Golden State Warriors.
Despite Lillard’s dynamic performances, the team has often struggled to even make it out of the first round of playoffs.
This is partly due to the fact that Portland’s front office hasn’t done enough to surround Lillard with the sort of talent that’s needed to make a championship team.
CJ McCollum is a great right-hand man for Lillard but he has never received much more than him.
He needs an entire team to complement him and Portland just hasn’t delivered.
The team has been very reluctant to ever make monster trades and prefers to build a powerful squad naturally or with smaller, less expensive deals.
That’s a fine approach for some but it’s not getting the job done for Portland – and it’s surely testing Lillard’s patience as he watches so many other teams come from nothing and achieve greatness while he’s just waiting on his to do the same.
1. The Drama
Lillard is a no-nonsense, no-drama sort of guy but lately, he has been surrounded by both nonsense and drama.
The last few months have been very rocky for the Trail Blazers and the team hasn’t handled it nearly as well as they should have.
It all started when they fired head coach Terry Stotts after another lackluster season.
After a competitive search process, the team selected former player Chauncey Billups as the new head coach – a move that was met with intense controversy.
After the team and Lillard himself praised Billups, serious sexual assault allegations came to light about the new coach, and the entire team was thrown into disarray.
There were calls for Billups to be fired immediately and questions about why Portland didn’t know of these claims before the hiring.
Even Lillard was called out by the local press, which was a first for him.
This was followed by an investigation into general manager Neil Olshey, who was later fired due to creating a toxic work environment for years.
Statement from the Portland Trail Blazers pic.twitter.com/W9j4V3nNl2
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 3, 2021
All of this drama is the last thing that Lillard wants to be around and is definitely upsetting him.
If the lackluster winning record wasn’t enough, Lillard has been forced to read nasty headline after nasty headline for his team.
You can’t blame Lillard for being upset with his team but now the question is what will he do about it?
He can either stick it out and hope things get better or finally do what the rest of the NBA has been begging him to do: leave Portland and pursue his first ring somewhere else.