KEY POINTS

  • The Damian Lillard-led Trail Blazers have not been winning a lot this season
  • Lillard is being heavily linked to a move away from Portland
  • The six-time NBA All-Star had addressed the speculation in the past

Damian Lillard has become arguably the hottest subject of trade rumors in the NBA this season.

The Portland Trail Blazers have not found much success this season, having lost 12 of their first 23 games and failing to hit the .500 winning percentage. Atop that, drama within the franchise’s management added fuel to the fire, and now, star player Lillard is rumored to be considering leaving the team.

On Friday's edition of “NBA Countdown,” ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said that should Lillard ever decide to leave Portland, his preferred destination will be the New York Knicks. However, he also claimed that “people in Lillard’s camp” want him to give the Philadelphia 76ers a shot.

“Stephen A. Smith just said on 'NBA Countdown' that New York is the one place Dame Lillard would angle for if he eventually wanted/asked out. Adds, 'There are people in his camp who would like him to give Philadelphia stronger consideration,'” Smith was quoted as saying by Sixers insider and the Philly Voice reporter Kyle Neubeck.

International Business Times could not independently verify this information.

The six-time NBA All-Star previously shut down speculations that he is considering parting ways with the Blazers.

Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers Photo: Getty Images | Steph Chambers

According to Lillard, all of it has been and will remain rumors as he has reasons to stick with the Blazers, and among them was the appointing of Detroit Pistons legend Chauncey Billups as the team’s new head coach.

"Everybody is saying what they think I'm thinking and what they think I'm going to do, but like, I'm not leaving Portland, you know?" Lillard told Jason Quick of The Athletic in October.

“I think a big part of (my change in mindset) was me and Chauncey’s conversations, and where we see things the same,” he revealed. “I’m not going to share details of our conversations, but it’s not often when I speak to people that they see what I see. Watching a game, observing people, there’s not many people who see what I see. But a lot of what I see, he sees. So that was very important to me. Like, that was a big deal.”

The firing of the Blazers’ longtime president Neil Olshey reportedly contributed to Lillard’s trade link-ups.

Lillard recently admitted that he “always had a really good relationship” with Olshey, and now, some reports suggested that the executive’s departure marks the beginning of the end of the “Dame” era in Portland, hence, certain changes could happen soon.