When Damian Lillard returns to the Portland Trail Blazers next season, he’ll be met by a way different team compared to what he started this 2021-22. The Rip City squad started a major overhaul by trading a few key players in order to acquire assets and potentially speed up rebuilding their roster around Dame.
Despite the revamp, though, Lillard is confident about the Blazers’ plan and shows optimism that they can turn things around to be contenders sooner rather than later. At 31 years old, Lillard’s years in his prime are numbered, so he definitely wants to fight for the Larry O’Brien trophy as soon as next year.
While they lost the likes of CJ McCollum, Robert Covington and Norman Powell, Dame is happy to see the Blazers free up money to chase for another superstar talent, as well as get picks that could help the team secure its future.
“And I also think we’ve taken some steps back as an organization, obviously with the moves that we’ve made [at the trade deadline]. But we’ve also positioned ourselves to do something that we haven’t been able to do since I’ve been here, which is we’ve opened up money, we got picks, we got a $22 million trade exception, we got a $6 million trade exception, we got the full mid-level, we got the biannual,” Lillard said, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
“We have an opportunity, and we got flexibility. There are guys we can bring in that can make us a team that can compete for a championship, but we have to execute that.”
As Damian Lillard noted, however, the next step for the Blazers is actually executing their plans. While they have the money and assets to chase for a big fish in free agent and the assets to pull off a trade, it will all be useless if they are unable to take full advantage of it.
Everyone knows that common story in free agency when a team cleared as much cap space as possible for their big target only to miss out on that player. The Blazers certainly don’t want to be in that position.
Hopefully, Lillard will have the chance to play with a competitive roster that can help him compete for the title. That is the biggest knock in his All-Star resume, and he has repeatedly said that winning the NBA title and regular season MVP are his only goals.
“That’s the only thing I care about, honestly…” Lillard furthered in the interview with Yahoo Sports. “Like I said, my best is yet to come. And the only things that I play for at this point is I want to be the MVP of the league and I want to win the championship. And once I do those things, I feel great about the investment that I made to this game over my whole life. If I accomplish those two things, I’m walking away feeling like I literally got the most out of myself as an athlete.”
Lillard is currently recovering from an abdominal injury that required surgery. Fortunately, he highlighted that he is now pain-free and working his way back to full health. Now, it’s up to the Blazers to get him the help he needs for the team to win the NBA championship it has long wished for.