The Portland Trail Blazers slow start to the season has those around the League once again questioning Damian Lillard’s future with the organization. In conjunction with a lack of defensive production, a pairing between Lillard and a defensive stalwart may soon be in the works.
According to sources close to The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has expressed interest in playing alongside Philadelphia 76ers three-time All-Star Ben Simmons.
The 11-13 Blazers’ defensive struggles have persisted, ranking 30th in the League in defensive rating (113.3). The acquisition of Simmons would surely invigorate the teams’ defensive ability and mindset, allowing head coach Chauncey Billups to utilize a small-ball lineup capitalizing on what would be their newly acquired athleticism and length on the court.
There were also reports of Lillard growing frustration with the team’s play alongside a rise in tension between the group and Billups. The initial tweet was quote tweeted by a user questioning the report’s validity if it hadn’t come directly from Lillard, to which the six-time All-Star jumped in and cleared the air.
These mfs love drama too damn much. https://t.co/ej15TkAybZ
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) December 6, 2021
Lillard’s production this season has seen a dip as well, averaging 21.5 points and 7.8 assists per game on 39.7 percent shooting from the field. However, an MRI last week confirmed Lillard has been playing with an abdominal injury since capturing gold at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
The pairing between Lillard and Simmons has been rumored for months. In October, the Blazers rejected a trade package including CJ McCollum, three first-round picks, and three pick swaps for Simmons. Following Neil Olshey’s firing after an investigation into workplace harassment, interim general manager Joe Cronin will have a run of the gambit for potential suitors to place around Lillard.