Damian Lillard isn't ready to request a trade from the Trail Blazers. Barring significant roster changes before next season the front office has to this point been hesitant to embrace, though, it seems entirely possible his days in Portland are numbered.
Speaking at USA Basketball media availability on Friday, Lillard directly refuted a Friday report from TrueHoop's Henry Abbott about an imminent trade demand.
"I woke up to those reports, a lot of people reaching out to me," he said. "But it's not true."
Less than three hours after TrueHoop's report, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian wrote that a source told him Lillard has no plans to force his way out of Portland.
While Lillard's remarks to reporters confirmed that reporting, he notably stopped short of endorsing a long-term commitment to the Blazers.
"I haven't made any firm decision on what my future will be," Lillard said. "There's really no need for anyone else to speak for me."
Though everyone from Olshey to Billups to Jusuf Nurkic has suggested the Blazers won't be making significant changes to the roster before next season, Lillard hasn't been shy to implicitly express his desire for a personnel overhaul in Portland. He hinted as much immediately after the Blazers were eliminated from the playoffs by the short-handed Denver Nuggets, and went a step further on Friday morning in an exclusive interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
If Portland's goal is to actually compete for a title, the status quo just won't do.
"We're not winning the championship, but we’ve got a successful organization. We're not a franchise that’s just out here losing every year and getting divided. We have positive seasons; we just don't end up with a championship," Lillard told Haynes. "So I feel like at this point, I basically made the decision that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you've always been."
Shortly after Haynes published his chat with Lillard, he appeared on the Dan Patrick Show, clarifying Lillard's thinking with regard to a potential trade demand.
Lillard, at least for now, is simply wielding his power to goad the Blazers into making roster changes he's been subtly advocating for since Portland's season ended.
If he's ready to more directly call for breaking up the band, it would certainly explain why Olshey and Billups reportedly flew to Las Vegas on Friday for a meeting with Lillard.
Lillard downplayed his forthcoming chat with Olshey and Billups, mentioning that management has regularly come to Las Vegas when he's trained with USA Basketball. Still, he admitted "there's a conversation to be had" with Olshey and Billups.
If he doesn't like the way it goes? Considering Lillard wouldn't commit to Portland even for next season alone, don't be surprised if his stance on a trade changes.