Could this be the end of the Lillard–Portland saga? Plus Milwaukee is on fire.
In today’s episode, Michael and Rohan recap Hawks-Bucks, discuss Portland’s controversial Chauncey Billups hire and give several of their favorite hypothetical Dame Lillard trades
Michael Pina: There was a report by Yahoo’s Chris Haynes that Damian Lillard is, I’m going to probably like butcher this description just because it was a little confusing to me.
Rohan Nadkarni: It felt purposefully confusing. Yeah, vague.
Michael Pina: So I mean, Dame for basketball reasons alone, it’s understandable I think that Damian Lillard at this point in his career would like to win a championship, and like to play with other superstar-caliber players. So from that perspective, I don’t blame him. Even after signing a supermax to stay in Portland and all the things he said about loyalty, I don’t think anyone should blame him for wanting to do what’s best with him as his career sort of evolves.
Rohan Nadkarni: And he has given it his all to the Blazers. He’s never been the kind of guy who felt like he had an eye out the door or whatever. I mean, it’s truly, truly given his all to this team and teammates.
Michael Pina: Yeah, he had one of the greatest games in NBA history.
Rohan Nadkarni: I think we should just call this report what it is. It felt like a precursor to Dame trying to ask out at some point. I think it’s no secret to anyone who follows the sport closely that Lillard has a relationship with Chris Haynes. That’s not to say that Dame is the quote-unquote source for this story, but I think Haynes is plugged in with what Damian Lillard wants, even if he hasn’t made a decision yet. And I think that you hit the nail on the head for basketball reasons it’s very clear why he may want out. And I think the report coming out that Lillard is, I guess, the report frame with this, he’s upset with the way fans have reacted to his level of involvement in the Billups hire, which Lillard says he didn’t have a high level of involvement. There are reports saying he had ownership here. Regardless of whether or not he’s upset at a few fans or a lot of fans on social media who are coming after him, it all to me just feels like … This is kind of what you say publicly when you realize for basketball reasons, you might be trying to get out of here.
Michael Pina: Right. And for even more context, we should say that Chauncey Billups was hired, given a five-year contract over the weekend to become the head coach of the Portland Trailblazers after they interviewed Mike D’Antoni, after they interviewed Becky Hammon, the assistant with the San Antonio Spurs. And I’ll just speak frankly, I did not know about the sexual assault allegation that occurred in 1997 with Chauncey Billups before this weekend. So I personally was not aware of it. And I think that that is what has overshadowed Chauncey’s hire to a degree with that coming out. Chauncey Billups obviously has been around for quite a bit, right now as we speak he is an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers. He worked for ESPN for years; he had a well-decorated NBA career as a player, and he has interviewed for head coaching positions and spoken about wanting to be a GM for years. So that comes out right now. And that certainly muddies things a great deal. And I don’t think that Dame, as you said at the time, I don’t think dame should be blamed at all for wanting Chauncey to be his coach, particularly. I think Damian Lillard tweeted that he was unaware of those allegations also when he made his claim that he wanted Jason Kidd or Chauncey Billups to be the next head coach.