Damian Lillard is one of the most loyal NBA stars over the past decade. However, his patience with the Portland Trail Blazers seems to be wearing thin and his future with this club, the only one he knows, appears in doubt.
According to Chris Haynes, Yahoo, Lillard is becoming frustrated by the search for a new coach for the team. He also has doubts about his ability ever to compete for the title in Portland.
Yahoo Sports sources said that Damian Lillard, the franchise player, may be fired due to the huge backlash caused by the Portland Trail Blazers' decision to hire a coach.
Lillard has been loyal to Portland due to its huge fan base. Sources said that Lillard has been attacked by some of his fans on social media over a coaching deal he did not approve.
A move is not likely at this time. Lillard has not indicated that he has filed a trade request to the front office or that he would like to move. It is notable that Lillard has reportedly become so upset that he may consider leaving.
Two factors are at play here. It's worth looking into each one separately.
1. Hire controversial coaching
The Blazers parted ways shortly after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the fourth time in five years by Terry Stotts, their long-time head coach.
There were reports that Lillard would be involved in the selection of the next head coach. He told Yahoo Sports that Jason Kidd was the man he wanted. He later modified that statement, telling The Athletic: "I like J. Kidd [Billups]".
Kidd quickly resigned his name from consideration . This was reportedly because he was uncomfortable with Lillard's request to him to be the next Coach. Kidd's decision was made amid backlash from Blazers supporters over his domestic violence incident. He likely knew that he was a favorite to get the Dallas Mavericks job and has now agreed to be their coach.
The Blazers were able to focus their attention on Billups after Kidd was out of the picture. Billups has been hired as their next head coaching. Fans in Portland and elsewhere were vocally critical of the Blazers' initial decision to consider Billups.
Billups was a Boston Celtics player in 1997 when he was accused by rape of a woman. The disturbing details of this case have been revealed recently. Billups was not charged with a crime and settled a civil suit with the woman.
Portland women have voiced their disapproval at the decision to hire Billups. There has been a lot of Twitter commentary, some of which placed blame for Lillard. Lillard, the All-Star point guard, even engaged in a back and forth about the situation. He claimed he didn't know about the Billups accusation and suggested that his preferred choices were based upon options provided by the front office.
The Blazers continue to work with Billups, despite the controversy. Although it is not clear how much influence Lillard had in this process, the events over the last few days seem to have damaged his relationship with the franchise as well as the city.
2. Inability to compete for a title
Lillard is not only frustrated by the coaching hiring process, but that's not his only concern. Lillard is also beginning to wonder if the team will ever have a title contender.
The Blazers have been to the playoffs eight times in a row since his rookie season. They have lost five of their first round matches and never won more 54 games in that time span. Their 2019 run to Western Conference finals ended in a sweep against Golden State Warriors. This was their only win over the second round.
While injuries have played an important role, the truth is that the Blazers haven't been gifted enough. CJ MacCollum apologies, but the Blazers have never had a second star to play with Lillard and are often one of the worst defensive teams within the league.
Lillard was forced to perform a one-man performance at times during this stretch. Lillard's performance against the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 was especially impressive. He scored 55 points and had 10 assists in a double overtime loss. He scored 17 of their overtime points and was 6 of 8 from the field, while the rest of his team went 1 of 4.
Lillard will be 31 years old this summer. It would not be surprising if Lillard decides to make it his own.