BY STEVEN VAUGHAN, 750 The Game
The Trail Blazers are 32-42 and plodding toward the franchise’s second-consecutive appearance in the NBA Draft Lottery. That means it’s time for national media to participate in the annual NBA tradition of wondering how long until Damian Lillard wants out of Portland.
This time it’s The Athletic’s national NBA writer, Shams Charania:
John Canzano doesn’t think anyone should be surprised by the report.
“I don’t think he’s wrong,” Canzano said on the Bald Faced Truth radio show on Monday. “You have to wonder, don’t you? I’m looking at Damian Lillard and wondering what does he want to do? What do the Blazers want to do? How does Lillard fit into the long term and short term prognosis of the franchise? We should all be wondering that.”
Canzano says that the Blazers should be having important internal conversations about how the franchise will handle the final years of Lillard’s career. Trade him? Build around him? Draft, trade, or free agency?
“There have to be real conversations,” Canzano said. “It’s time for the Blazers to get real about Damian Lillard and get real whether or not they’re going to go for it in the short term. And the next two to three seasons, are they going to go all in, trying to win now? Doing whatever they possibly can? Or are they going to slow play the end of Lillard career much like they slow played the beginning and middle of his career?”
The Blazers front office hasn’t built a consistent winner around Lillard. Portland has eight NBA playoff appearances in Lillard’s career — five of which were first-round exits. The Blazers reached the Western Conference Finals in the 2019 playoffs, but were swept by the Warriors.
Said Canzano: “Isn’t that the true angst that Blazers fans feel today? Shouldn’t the frustration be directed at the front office and ownership more than anything else? Let’s not give them a pass.”
Canzano believes that the Blazers need to get real with themselves before they can take a step forward.
“I think the real source of frustration has to be the organization — it has failed Lillard,” Canzano said. “It failed to put pieces around him that can help him win and maximize the window of opportunity that his talent creates. That to me is the real sin. Maybe the biggest sin of the Trail Blazers organization.”
Listen to John Canzano deliver the Bald Faced Truth weekdays 3-6 p.m. exclusively in Portland on 750 The Game.