While training with Team USA for the Tokyo Olympics, Damian Lillard is doing his part to stop the rumor mill that has dominated the Portland Trail Blazers offseason since Terry Stotts was dismissed as head coach a month ago.
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 8, 2021
After dealing with constant speculation of Portland’s coaching change, starting with his public endorsement of Jason Kidd, Lillard said this week that he’ll keep his thoughts on the direction of the team between himself and the franchise, via ESPN.
“Anything that I have to say, I’m going to say directly to [Blazers general manager] Neil [Olshey] and I’m going to address it directly with my team,” Lillard said after the third day of Team USA training camp in Las Vegas. “There’s really nothing else I have to say about it.”
Yahoo! Sports reported last month that the Blazers’ coaching search that landed Chauncey Billups and the possible inability to build a contending roster could lead to a Lillard trade request. Lillard didn’t deny the report, only regretting that his feelings were made public.
Portland received social media backlash over the hiring of Billups when details of a 1997 rape allegation resurfaced prior to him being named as head coach. Lillard’s criticism on social media because of his support during the search process caused tension between Lillard and the franchise’s fanbase.
Really? I was asked what coaches I like of the names I “heard” and I named them. Sorry I wasn’t aware of their history I didn’t read the news when I was 7/8yrs old. I don’t support Those things … but if this the route y’all wana come at me… say less https://t.co/N1GPkX3Ohd
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) June 26, 2021
When asked about his endorsement of Billups’ hire, Lillard claimed the process of making and vetting the decision was done by the team.
“In the past I’ve never stepped on anybody’s toes or demanded anything or told anybody what to do, and it was no different in this situation.”
The Portland Trail Blazers recently hired Scott Brooks to Chauncey Billups’ staff.