It Sure Looks Like Damian Lillard is On His Way Out of Portland…

Over the weekend, the Blazers announced that they’d hired Chauncey Billups to be their next head coach. The problem is, Dame had previously stated that he preferred Jason Kidd for the job. Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes reported that this, along with the Blazers’ inability to put Championship-level talent around him, “could push Damian Lillard out the door.”

Colin Cowherd announced on his show yesterday that Dame directly messaged him on social media recently, and although Colin wouldn’t say what Lillard said to him, Colin did say that he told Dame, “You deserve the best.” Meaning: Portland cannot get you the supporting cast you need to win a title, so go somewhere that can.

On his podcast, Colin elaborated a little further on the conversation he had with Dame:

“I won’t get into too many specifics, but what we discussed was Damian Lillard and his options. So, in nine seasons, he’s the Batman, they have not delivered a Robin. This is where I side with the players: LeBron James gave Cleveland seven years, they couldn’t get him a second all star. CJ McCollum is a very nice player, but how many years have people been screaming that their skills are often duplicated [CJ and Dame]. Obviously Dame’s better. And they haven’t moved him. So I don’t have a ton of sympathy when, in eight or nine free agency periods and eight or nine drafts, you [Portland] can’t find a really solid second star for Dame. And I’m not saying it’s easy; Mark Cuban is gonna have to do that for Luka….

This is the world we’re in; Dame, when he and I briefly text back and forth, loves Portland, loves the people. But he’s gonna be 31 in July, drafted in 2012. He wanted Jason Kidd as the head coach–they went to the same high school in Alameda; didn’t get him. Now I don’t think necessarily players should be hiring coaches, but Dame’s as big a star as Portland’s had since Clyde Drexler.”

Colin also went on to say the idea of Dame getting traded to the Lakers is an “LA delusion.”

He also had NBA reporter Chris Mannix on the show, and while I’ve always been kind of meh on Mannix because I think he’s too much of a Boston homer, he was pretty good with Colin. Mannix said that it was his understanding that Portland didn’t even offer Jason Kidd the head coaching job, which was pretty big news. I mean, you have your superstar Dame Lillard saying he wants Kidd to get the job, and Portland doesn’t even offer him the job?

I get that there is “baggage” with Jason Kidd in reference to his very public issues with his ex-wife and the domestic violence and all that years ago (2001 was when Kidd pled guilty to spousal abuse), but if that was Portland’s concern over Kidd, then why did they hire Chauncey Billups, who was accused of sexual assault in 1997? The Blazers are currently being ripped in the media for the Billups hire.

Now, I’ve always liked Chauncey Billups as a player and then as a media personality, and I was completely unaware of the whole sexual assault situation from the 1990s. That was a bit before my time. Apparently the matter never went to criminal court, and was settled outside of civil court in 2000. The Blazers investigated it and came away feeling comfortable hiring Billups as their head coach. It’s just that these things matter more nowadays in the post-“Me Too” era.

The point is, in addition to being criticized for not being able to put the requisite talent around Lillard, the Blazers are now being questioned in the media for their hiring of Billups, and it seems like the two put together are creating the perfect opportunity for Dame to ask for a divorce, so to speak.

I wrote a few weeks back, right after Portland got eliminated in the first round: it’s time for Dame to move on. He’s gotta get out of there. He’ll never win a ring in Portland. This man dropped 55 points in a playoff game and it still wasn’t enough to drag his sorry supporting cast to a win. The Blazers can’t attract big-name free agents, and the front office has not been able to pull off big trades to upgrade the roster. Dame has given them nine years of high-level basketball, but now it’s time for him to go play for a real contender.

I would love to see him in Dallas with Luka because Luka clearly needs more help down there. Dame and Luka are two of my favorite players in the league, and I think it would be awesome to see them team up.

But it’s also likely Portland will try to send him to the Eastern Conference so he’s not kicking their ass all the time. I know the Knicks are very interested, but I don’t think Dame fits New York–nor do I think the Knicks deserve him. Even though they had a good season last year, they’re still one of the worst-run sports franchises in America. I also don’t know if Dame is really a Tom Thibodeau type of guy, either.

I could see Dame going to Philly, perhaps for Ben Simmons. I think pairing Dame and Embiid would make Philly an elite team. They complement each other almost perfectly in an inside-outside duo. It might be the closest any team has come to replicating Kobe and Shaq since Shaq left LA in 2005. If any GM has the stones to pull of a trade for Dame Lillard, it’s Daryl Morey. I think Philly is the team to watch here.

At the end of the day, I just want to see Dame in the Finals. I want to see him get a chance at a ring. I think it’s now looking like he’s officially done in Portland.

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