ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith appeared on the network’s “NBA Countdown” program and indicated that although Lillard wants to stay in Portland, the star would angle to go to New York if he ever did want to leave.
"The New York Knicks would be [Damian Lillard's] No. 1 preference" 😳
— 𝙏𝙖𝙡𝙠𝙞𝙣’ 𝙉𝘽𝘼 🗣️ (@_Talkin_NBA) December 4, 2021
“If Damian Lillard doesn’t want to stay, and he does want to stay in Portland,” Smith said. “If you talk to him, his whole thing is, ‘I want to be here. This is where I wanna be. This is where I wanna retire.’ The only thing that would really really tickle him and make him entertain wanting to leave Portland, believe it or not, is going to the New York Knicks.”
Lillard has spent his entire career with the Trail Blazers and has put up numbers that have him destined for enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
However, the 31-year-old Lillard has yet to be part of an NBA title team and could potentially seek to leave if he believes the team isn’t focused on bringing a championship to Portland.
The overall turmoil surrounding the Trail Blazers’ franchise could also cause a change in Lillard’s apparent desire to stay with the team.
That turmoil includes Friday’s dismissal of the team’s former general manager and president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.
Lillard may very well end up with the Knicks at some point, though for now, he will remain with the Trail Blazers.