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Damian Lillard: 'Not my duty' to keep public informed on trade rumors, leaving Trail Blazers

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Damian Lillard has spoken up about his responsibility to keep facts straight when it comes to trade rumors surrounding his future with the Portland Trail Blazers, just over a month after denying a report that he requested to be traded.

"You get to a position where it's like, 'Do I defend myself or do I just say nothing?' For me, when I'm just hearing stuff that's not the facts, I'm going to say I didn't say that," Lillard said in an interview with The Athletic. "Some things I've just got to let it be said. I know what the truth is. I know where I stand. It's not my duty to make the public know … it's not my job to make them aware of what that is.

"I let people talk and I just stay true to who I am and I stand on that. If I say something, I stand on what I said. It is what it is, at this point."

Damian Lillard has made the playoffs eight times with the Blazers, but they have five first-round exits.
Damian Lillard has made the playoffs eight times with the Blazers, but they have five first-round exits.

Lillard has been with the Trail Blazers for the entirety of his nine-year professional career, but talk has circulated during the NBA offseason that the 31-year-old might be eyeing other teams. Lillard has denied that, but he has spoken up about frustration with the front office and a need for more urgency in determining the trajectory of the franchise.

Portland fell to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, losing in six games to a team with multiple injured players. In the bubble during the 2020 season, the Trail Blazers also lost in the first round.

With likely only a few more years left ahead of him in the league, Lillard wanting a legit shot at championship run seems to be the root cause of his frustration.

Portland general manager Neil Olshey expects the late-June hiring of Chauncey Billups as head coach to set the team back on track. While Lillard originally supported the hire, Billups' past rape allegation and public outcry added to the superstar's frustration.

All that being said, Lillard should start the season, if not play the entire year, with the Trail Blazers. C.J. McCollum told Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday that he has "a pretty good sense" of where his teammate's head is at.

"His goal is to win a championship," McCollum said on Wojnarowski's podcast. "But ... he's all in. At this stage, I can say he's all in."

Lillard offered an even briefer remark to fans watching his Instagram Live on Tuesday night.

"I'm not leaving PDX. Not right now at least."

Contact Emily Leiker at eleiker@usatoday.com or on Twitter @emleiker

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Damian Lillard tries to keep facts straight with Portland trade rumors