The Portland Trail Blazers were probably hoping that Chauncey Billups could be the head coach presence the team needed to keep Damian Lillard happy and keep him from looking for a profession. Indeed, Lillard said ahead of the start of the season that he liked some of Billups’ defensive philosophies and felt they were necessary for the overall progress of the team.
But the Blazers are in crisis mode and Lillard could possibly be looking for a way out.
Billups tore his team apart after Portland lost their fifth game in the last six tries. His admonitions could be intended to inspire the Blazers. However, they could also disillusion Lillard and contribute to his desire to play for a more stable NBA organization.
Chauncey Billups says ‘lack of pride’ is killing Blazers, tearing starters apart
Chauncey Billups already had plenty of reasons to be upset after Portland’s resounding loss to the Boston Celtics on December 4. He felt even more frustrated by the apparent lack of effort.
Billups berated the Blazers after the game. He said (h / t Sean Highkin of Launderer report) his players have shown very little passion or determination to return to the competition.
“The lack of pride, of course, bothers me. If you don’t mind, there’s something going on. Sometimes it’s not your night, cool, it happens. There is a way that I am ready to lose, and that is not the way that I am ready to lose. It was embarrassing. “
–Chauncey Billups after Saturday’s loss to the Boston Celtics
Yet Billups had even more criticism in store.
The former All-Star playmaker, according to Highkin, tore veteran players from the Portland roster for failing to instill more fighting in the youngsters.
“Young people, they don’t know the politics of the league. But that’s something vets should teach them, ”Billups said, per Launderer report. “I was more angry with the starters for putting [the bench] in this situation.
This is a pretty damning indictment of Portland’s roster and player-coach relationship. The continuing turmoil from the Blazers is expected to upset Damian Lillard, who during the offseason has called for more responsibility across the organization despite his initial refusal to request a trade.
Damin Lillard might be thinking about trading amid all the Blazers’ malfunctions
Damian Lillard systematically put an end to business rumors last summer. But as he clung to the Blazers cart, he also had stern warnings for members of the front office.
Lillard said during Team USA’s basketball camp that Portland can’t just make the playoffs. He demanded a sense of direction and implored all parties to make progress in helping the Blazers become a more competitive franchise.
Well the point is, the Blazers are a totally stagnant club right now. If anything, they could be down.
Portland posted zero defensive growth under Billups. The Blazers are last in the NBA in defensive rating and 24th in net rating. To make matters worse, management is in shambles.
The Blazers recently fired former general manager Neil Olshey after determining he violated their code of conduct. His departure leaves a void at the front office at a time when Portland can least afford such a mess.
Loyalty aside, what incentive does Lillard have to stay with the Blazers. Their head coach just wasn’t the right fit for the current staff on the team, who aren’t good enough to win, anyway.
Where could Damian Lillard end up if he asks for a trade?
If Damian Lillard ultimately demanded an exchange, one potential destination would stand out: Philadelphia.
The 76ers have long been said to be chasing the star point guard. They even hired Lillard’s college coach. With no end to the Ben Simmons saga, it’s possible the Sixers and Blazers could strike a deal that could likely provide Portland with the necessary project capital.
Another intriguing team could be the Denver Nuggets. Denver consider moving Jamal Murray to acquire Dame? Is Portland able to take an extra risk by trading for an injured star?
Then there’s the Knicks, a team that Stephen A. Smith has long claimed would suit Lillard. However, New York’s backcourt is already a bit crowded and it might be difficult to trade with Kemba Walker, which the Knicks would surely like to do.
For now, these questions are purely hypothetical. Lillard did not request an exchange. But if Billups’ latest remarks are any indication, it may only be a matter of time.
Statistics courtesy of Basketball reference.
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