Trail Blazers interim general manager Joe Cronin has been in trade talks with the 76ers over the last several days. However, Cronin made it known on Friday that the franchise has no plans to include star point guard Damian Lillard in the Ben Simmons trade discussions, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
The goal is still for Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups and Cronin to build the franchise around Lillard, who has explicitly stated that he wants to be in Portland.
"My intentions are to be in Portland and to figure it out," Lillard said on Wednesday about recent trade rumors.
While Lillard, Cronin and Billups appear to be on the same page, it is no secret that Philadelphia would love to pair Lillard with All-Star center Joel Embiid.
Simmons, who initially made a trade request following the 76ers' loss to the Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season, has not played in a game this season. According to Simmons, he is working on his mental health before planning to rejoin the team.
Per Wojnarowski, the 76ers have been aggressively working to construct a possible two or three-team package that would include a top-25 player. Before Portland fired Neil Olshey—former president of basketball operations for the Trail Blazers—he stated that he had no plans to include Lillard in the trade conversations between the two teams.
While Lillard is off the table, Portland has been open to discussing deals for guard CJ McCollum, who was diagnosed with a collapsed right lung on Tuesday night.
Portland (11–15) is currently in a three-way tie for ninth in the Western Conference standings. Philadelphia (14–12) sit in seventh in the Eastern Conference and a half-game behind the Cavaliers.
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