The past few months of the NBA offseason have seen Damian Lillard connected to a few trade rumors, primarily those suggesting that the Los Angeles Lakers could have their sights on him. However, if it was up to the man himself, he’d spend his entire professional basketball career with the same team he’s played for since being picked sixth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft — the Portland Trail Blazers.
Speaking to The Athletic’s Michael Scotto in an interview quoted by Bleacher Report, Lillard described how he feels it would be an “honor” if he gets to play his whole NBA career with the Blazers, given how rare it is for players to only play for one NBA team from their rookie year to retirement.
“Obviously, I love playing for the Blazers. I love living in the city. I feel like I’ve established a connection with the people and the culture of the city just as much as I’ve done on the basketball court, so that’s important.”
Damian Lillard also acknowledged the trade rumors he and other top NBA stars are often linked to, saying that the league is a “business” and that executives will always have their own plans to make their teams better by signing or trading for one player or another. However, he stressed that he’s “all on board” with the idea of being a “lifetime Blazer.”
Story: All-Star guard Damian Lillard discussed his future with the Blazers, CJ McCollum, re-signing Jusuf Nurkic, and competing in the West on The Athletic. https://t.co/zDvWU0XZCx pic.twitter.com/gTJC8bg2t8
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) September 6, 2018
Since joining the Portland Trail Blazers in 2012, Damian Lillard has led the team to the playoffs in each of his six seasons except the first, as noted by Bleacher Report. He has career averages of 23.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game, and also won the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year award and made All-NBA first team honors in 2017-18. Lillard will be entering the third year of his five-year, $120 million contract extension in 2018-19, which means he won’t be entering free agency until the summer of 2021. He has, however, been the subject of multiple trade rumors this offseason.
Earlier this summer, reports suggested that Damian Lillard was entertaining the idea of being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, though such rumors were mostly based on a series of cryptic tweets he fired off in response to Twitter followers, as noted by Silver Screen and Roll. More recently, ArizonaSports’ John Gambadoro tweeted that the Phoenix Suns inquired about Lillard’s availability, “but to no avail.” The Sporting News added that the trade offer “[didn’t] make sense,” considering how Lillard is the face of the Trail Blazers and how the team is not in the process of rebuilding at the moment.