The Sixers have shopped Ben Simmons around the NBA for the last few months as a breakup between the All-Star and the organization that drafted him years ago was inevitable. While the 76ers front office fielded offers from several organizations, including the Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and more, the Sixers had their sights set on one team in particular.
The Portland Trail Blazers.
As Portland's superstar guard Damian Lillard showed signs of potentially wanting out, many teams across the league kept their eyes on the situation. Lillard was unsure if the Blazers had what it takes to win a championship. Rumors were spreading that the star guard was just days away from requesting a trade before the Tokyo Olympics.
As expected, Lillard shot the rumors down with a post Team USA practice press conference in Las Vegas. To the Sixers, that news might've stung a bit as several reports indicated that Daryl Morey's number one trade target in a potential Ben Simmons deal was undoubtedly Lillard.
Tons of time has gone by. At this point, Lillard is back from the Olympics with a gold medal and has a fresh perspective on what it feels like to land in first place. While many believed a taste of winning could set Lillard straight and force him to realize that perhaps Portland isn't where he should be if he wants to win a title, the star guard hasn't bought into that notion.
Not only has Lillard made it clear behind the scenes that he's going to give the revamped Blazers another shot and begin the 2021-2022 season with them, but he publicly made it clear that he's not going anywhere anytime soon.
"Back for more," Lillard wrote on Instagram on Wednesday afternoon while claiming that Portland remains his city.
The 31-year-old six-time All-Star might be hungry for his first NBA title, but he doesn't seem anywhere near ready to chase it somewhere else. While the Sixers certainly wouldn't hesitate to allow Lillard to pair up with Joel Embiid for a potential race for a title in the Eastern Conference, Lillard is going to chance it with the Blazers once again.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.