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The price of Damian Lillard's loyalty

A tale of disappointment and uncertainty unfolds as Portland's draft failures persist, leaving Damian Lillard frustrated. It's his swan song, the final chapter marked by a bittersweet symphony.

Relationships go through ups and downs, and we often cling to hope, believing that rough patches are temporary.

Yet, years pass without improvement, making us question if the love between Lillard and Portland has waned. Attrition is evident, unspoken but felt. Perhaps, after turning this ugly page, a new chapter awaits, one of rebuilding.

Blazers GM, Joe Cronin, speaks of a meeting with Lillard and his agent, Aaron Goodwin, promising to build a winning team around him.

However, if Lillard chooses to leave Portland, Cronin aims to avoid being seen as the villain. Yet, their draft selections of Scoot Henderson, Kris Murray, and Rayan Rupert hardly alleviate concerns.

Portland teeter between competing and developing for the future, caught in a delicate balance. The Blazers now face a crucial decision, one where the middle ground seems non-existent.

A stagnant project?

Lillard's partnership with CJ McCollum in the playoffs yielded disappointing results, winning only 19 out of 57 games together. Despite making the playoffs each season from 2014 to 2021, the Blazers managed to win just four series.

The project seems stagnant. The past year saw Portland struggle once again, burdened by organizational inefficiency and a lackluster bench, all while Lillard carried the team.

The arrival of Chauncey Billups as head coach and the addition of players Lillard approved, such as Jerami Grant and Josh Hart, failed to lift the team. In a weak Western Conference, Portland faltered with a record of 33-49.

Billups' letdown was palpable. His aim to improve defense and bring creativity to a Lillard-centric offense fell flat.

The price of Damian Lillard's loyalty

The Blazers remained one of the worst defensive teams in the league. They also struggled with ball movement, ranking ninth in assists.

Over the years, everything around Lillard has changed - the roster, the coach, and the management. Loyalty to a city and organization can be compared to real-life relationships. Some players choose loyalty and the adoration of thousands of fans over better sporting opportunities.

Loyalty or title in 2024?

Scoot Henderson, Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, Jerami Grant, Jusuf Nurkic, Matisse Thybulle, Cam Reddish, Justise Winslow, Nassir Little, Keon Johnson, Trendon Watford - these names, along with Damian Lillard, hold the key to Portland's potential.

The Blazers are on the cusp of becoming one of the most promising young projects in the NBA. The pairing of Scoot and Shaedon creates an electrifying backcourt, blending physicality, technique, and a winning mentality. Adding the athleticism and off-ball prowess of Sharpe to form a trinity solidifies the Blazers' core, positioning them as one of the league's most well-rounded teams.

Meanwhile, according to Sam Amick's report, Damian Lillard has expressed a strong desire to reunite with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo at the Miami Heat.

While his initial intention is to remain with the Oregon-based franchise, the realization that they may not be building a championship contender could prompt a change of heart.

This raises questions about Portland's options for the upcoming season and whether Anfernee's potential transfer could enhance the team's competitiveness and depth. Every project follows a timeline, a sequence of events that shapes the future steps of a franchise. It appears that Lillard's journey in Portland has reached its twilight.

The price of Damian Lillard's loyalty

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