Before the US men's national team departed for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the rumor mill was in full swing regarding Damian Lillard. Many reports hinted that the Blazers' All-Star guard was close to requesting a trade.
The talk around Lillard stalled as the Olympics and free agency went underway and has not picked back up since. Since returning to the states, it appears Lillard is content with starting the season in Portland.
One of the major changes the Trail Blazers made this offseason was hiring a new head coach. The franchise parted ways with Terry Stotts and replaced him with former player and champion Chauncey Billups.
Since taking over in Portland, Billups has discussed multiple changes he is looking to make moving forward. Oddly enough, his statements had fans in Philadelphia in a frenzy that Ben Simmons is the perfect player for him.
Aaron J. Fentress of OregonLive.com recently did a story on Billups and the style he is hoping to implement. Among the things mentioned were more assists, getting into the paint, and more effort on defense.
The more Billups talks about how he wants to play the more Simmons looks like his ideal player. Simmons is arguably the league's best and most versatile defender and belongs in the discussion for top facilitators.
Taking less "jacked" threes is something Billups has harped on and is an area Simmons can easily fix. Since entering the league, Simmons is one of the league's best in creating three-point attempts. The attention he draws in transition and around the rim makes it easy to find open shooters.
While this connection means very little now, it is something worth noting. Lillard may seem intent on staying with the Trail Blazers now, but we have seen situations like this sour in the blink of an eye.
Last season we saw James Harden work his way out of Houston in the early weeks of the season. Depending on how Portland starts off the regular season, it could cause Lillard to have a change of heart.
Will the Damian Lillard sweepstakes ever happen? Nobody really knows. But one thing that is certain is Daryl Morey will be at the front of the line if he becomes available.
The Sixers are looking to compete for titles now, and adding Lillard puts them in a better position to do so. Seeing that Simmons seamlessly fits how Billups wants to play might give the Sixers an added edge if these trade talks ever happen.
Kevin McCormick covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN and Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @KevinMcCNBA.