While saying his desire has been to play for the Trail Blazers “for my entire career,” Portland star guard Damian Lillard acknowledged on Friday that he wants to see progress toward building a championship team.
The 31-year-old Lillard, a six-time All-Star who averaged 28.8 points and 7.5 assists per game this past season, both the second-best of his nine-year career, refuted a report from a basketball-based website that he was on the verge of asking for a trade.
Still, his comments, which came in Las Vegas after a practice for Team USA, were not a ringing endorsement for the franchise.
“Right now I’m not sure what I’m going to do. What I can say is my intentions and my heart has always been set on being in a Trail Blazers uniform for my entire career. But I think over time, you want to win it all. And I want to win it all in a Trail Blazers uniform. But we all have to be making strides toward that,” he said, according to ESPN.
Lillard’s contract with the Trail Blazers runs through 2024. Portland are a consistent playoff presence, having qualified for eight straight years, but they have lost in the first round four times in the last five seasons.
The Blazers lost in six games to the Denver Nuggets in June. They advanced to the second round by beating Oklahoma City in five games in 2019, and had not escaped the first round since defeating the Los Angeles Clippers in 2016.
“The best way to put it is to be more urgent about what our next step is and how we move forward. We’re not a bad team; we’re a winning team,” Lillard said.
“I just think we’ve reached that point where it’s like, ‘OK, it’s not enough.’ Do we actually want to win it all? Is that what we’re shooting for? We’ve got to do things to show that,” he added.
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