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Damian Lillard’s bold take on Portland’s title chances after trade drama

Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard certainly didn’t seem like a player with any plans on playing elsewhere during Portland Trail Blazers Media Day.

In fact, the league’s favorite hypothetical trade centerpiece seemed more comfortable with the notion of continuing his career in Rip City for good than he has in months. Why? Lillard’s newfound confidence he really could win a championship with the Blazers.

Lillard famously mandated roster upgrades over the summer as his future in Portland seemingly hung in the balance. Trading for Larry Nance Jr. and signing Cody Zeller, Tony Snell and Ben McLemore to minimum contracts surely weren’t the personnel upgrades Lillard had in mind. Still, he expressed confidence on Monday that the Blazers’ new additions would help them improve in 2021-22, especially under the tutelage of rookie coach Chauncey Billups.

Could Portland be this season’s Phoenix Suns, mostly forecasted as preseason a playoff afterthought before running roughshod over an injured Western Conference en route to the NBA Finals? That type of injury-related luck would no doubt have to be on the Blazers’ side, and Portland’s whole would have to prove much bigger than the sum of its parts.

But belief is a necessary catalyst, and Damian Lillard is obviously of the opinion his team could win a championship if things break its way come playoff time—not just in 2021-22, but going forward as well.