Only minutes ahead, Lillard had walked the Moda Center courtroom following a 126-115 loss to the Nuggets in Game 6. Although he did not have answers concerning the long run, he made it crystal clear that the gift simply is not going to reduce it.
"We did not do what was needed to acquire a string," Lillard said. "Obviously must maintain the battle, must keep working and return to combat. Irrespective of how it stopped, we are going to constantly have our heads held high and we are likely to get course and move about it as no actual warriors. We lost. And it is back to the drawing board for us."
However, what could that look like? A string of little doodles, or even a glowing, sterile fresh canvas which may be developed into a intricate tapestry of change.
The Blazers enter an offseason as unclear as any from the Lillard age, which started in 2012-13. For the first time in two seasons, it seems that coach Terry Stotts' project is in peril. The backcourt duo of Lillard and CJ McCollum obviously isn't good enough to have the group to the NBA Finals. Norman Powell includes a player option worth $11.6 million, so that he can become a free agent. Cap space is going to be restricted, and the staff clearly needs assistance.
"We did not win a championship, so clearly where we're now is not great enough," Lillard said.
The Blazers made the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season this season. That is not anything to take for granted. But now in the Lillard age, making the playoffs isn't any more an achievement, particularly losing at the first round for the third time in just four decades.
He'll turn 31 on July 15. To put this in view; Lillard had been 23 at 2014 when he struck on the game-winning three in Game 6 against Houston in the Moda Center to make the Blazers their first playoff series victory in 14 decades.
The Blazers have experienced two minutes because that step up: Lillard's game-winning three against Oklahoma City at Game 5 of this first-round series triumph in the 2019 playoffs, along with thesubsequentsecond-round series triumph over Denver that pushed the Blazers to the Western Conference finals, where they had been swept by Golden State.
Time is flying , and just two more years of not being great enough would depart Lillard coming 33. Michael Jordan retired by the Chicago Bulls in 1998 at Age 34 with six NBA titles. To get a more contemporary contrast, the Miami Heat gave up on Dwyane Wade and allow him depart as a free agent in age 34.
However, what would some of the look like? Even Lillard is not sure.
"To come up short in the initial round and also for our period to finish on our house floor is unsatisfactory," Lillard said. "That is as far as I'm with it at the moment. I am not actually considering additional (things ), alter or anything. We'll see what happens. I have not thought that far out."
WILL STOTTS RETURN?
On the docket is going to be Stotts. Assuming president of basketball operations Neil Olshey is kept -- and there have been no signs that his job is in jeopardy -- then Olshey should determine whether Stotts is the correct trainer moving ahead. The group's defense failed to improve year to year, and Portland ended 29th in defensive evaluation despite key developments like Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr..
However, the group's best defensive player was centre Jusuf Nurkic, who missed 35 games.
Offensively, the team rated among the Finest in the NBA. However, no protection generally implies no ring.
"Our expectations were high," Stotts said.
They were, despite the accidents during the summer, the group was pretty much entire for the playoffs. Nevertheless the Blazers fizzled from a Nuggets team which has been withoutinjured All-Star shield Jamal Murray.
Does all that collapse on Stotts? That is for Olshey to pick. However, Stotts has become the coach for two seasons. Even if shooting him for functionality is unfair, particularly given the injury-filled season, it might be determined that the franchise requires a fresh voice.
When asked about his job security, Stotts pointed out he has two years remaining on his contract. He signed an expansion in 2019 that pays him $5 million annually.