Sunday, April 14 2024

Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard let it be known during a recent review, following the team’s Monday shootaround, that he could return to the Portland Trail Blazers in the future.

“I see there being a time where I play for the Trail Blazers,” he said. “But it won’t be right now. I play for the Bucks. To accomplish what we want to accomplish, you’ve got to be all in on that.

“And I was traded, and I’m all in to try to accomplish that here. The Blazers just weren’t in a time where winning a championship was possible or what was able to be done at the time. While I’m my best self, I want to be able to play for that.”

Lillard’s upcoming two-year, $112.91 million contract runs through the 2026-27 season. It begins in 2025-26. The 12-year veteran could make as much as $58.27 million in 2026-27. His current deal is the four-year, $176.26 million contract he signed with Portland in July 2019.

In September, the Trail Blazers completed a three-team trade with the Bucks and Phoenix Suns. Portland traded Lillard to Milwaukee for Deandre Ayton, Jrue Holiday, Toumani Camara, a 2029 unprotected first-round draft pick, and unprotected Milwaukee swap rights in 2028 and 2030.

Phoenix landed Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little, and Keon Johnson. In a separate move in October, the Boston Celtics then traded Robert Williams III and Malcolm Brogdon to Portland for Holiday. Portland also received a 2024 first-round pick via Golden State and a 2029 first-round pick.

Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard could return to Portland Trail Blazers in the future

If the team falls short under new Bucks head coach Doc Rivers, one has to wonder whether Lillard will grow tired of playing in the Badger State. It could take a season or two.

After all, Portland is where his family lives. The California native was selected sixth overall by the Trail Blazers in the 2012 NBA Draft out of Weber State University.

Lillard, 33, earned all seven of his All-Star and All-NBA selections with the Western Conference franchise. He recorded a career-high 71 points in a 131-114 win over the Houston Rockets last season as well.

In 2021, Lillard won a gold medal for the U.S. Olympic team in the 2020 Summer Olympics and was later named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.

All of his basketball accomplishments outside the NCAA were either with the Olympic team or Blazers.

Furthermore, Damian Lillard is already feeling the emotional energy ahead of Wednesday night’s interconference matchup with the Trail Blazers in Portland. It will hit different walking out onto the Moda Center court for the first time in a Bucks uniform.

“I think it’ll always be like any emotional thing just because I loved living and playing in Portland,” Lillard told Aaron J. Fentress of The Oregonian in an interview.

“I never had plans to not play for the Blazers. So, I think because of that being a genuine feeling, I don’t think it will ever leave. But I think sometimes you’ve got to make hard decisions for what you want ultimately.”

Contrary to popular belief, a return to the Blazers is still possible.

Source: Basketball Insider


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