No easy way out, Lillard is a real one

Damian Lillard seems to be a man of commitment; to his wife, kids, and franchise.

Damian Lillard seems to be a man of commitment; to his wife, kids, and franchise.

 

As Dame signed a two-year, $122 million extension with the Portland Trail Blazers, the 10-year veteran is facing criticism from some, saying he’s taken the easy way out.

When you ponder on what we traditionally think “the easy way out” means, you’d automatically recall situations like Kevin Durant leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder for the historically-great Golden State Warriors. Since when did staying loyal to a franchise, despite its future outlook, become taking the easy way out? 

“We always chastise Kevin Durant, saying he took the easy way out,” Emanuel Acho on Speak for Yourself. “Saying he joined the Golden State Warriors to win chips. But is Damian Lillard taking the easy way out? I don’t expect the Blazers to compete for a title this year, and Marcellus Wiley, my co-host, doesn’t expect them to compete for a title this year.

“But Damian Lillard is going to make $122 million over the next two years knowing that his team is not capable of competing for a title. Knowing there are no expectations for anyone to see the Blazers competing for a title. Damian is going to make $258 million over the next five years, knowing that the Blazers have no expectations of winning, and he, himself, has no expectations of winning.”

The word used to describe Kobe Bryant for sticking with the Los Angeles Lakers, even in their dog days, was loyalty. The same goes for Dirk Nowitzki and others that hold that ‘loyal’ label. 

Lillard is being held to a different standard due to the current climate of the NBA. It seems like the disloyal nature of the NBA now has shifted the standards to where some second-guess those that remain loyal, opting not to ring chase. 

While the Trail Blazers aren’t going to compete for a title during the 2022-23 season, and probably not the next, pending a big free agent signing, they have a decent young group that could develop into something. The plus is that they still have a six-time all-star that averages 24.0 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game. 

Running alongside Lillard is Anfernee Simons, 23, averaging 17.3 points on 40.5% shooting from 3. Jerami Grant also joined the squad via a trade from the Detroit Pistons. Grant averaged 19.2 points and 4.1 rebounds last season. 

I’d understand a little more if the Trail Blazers weren’t actively trying to put necessary pieces around Lillard to be successful but in this situation, Lillard has displayed loyalty and an immense amount of trust in the franchise that drafted him, which warrants no criticism. 

Plus, who’s going to turn down $258 million over five years to live in one of the more progressive cities in the US?

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