The Trail Blazers are Not Tanking
Damian Lillard sent a clear message about the team's intentions after the weirdest 24 hours of their season.
The weirdest 24 hours of the Trail Blazers' season were bookended by two Damian Lillard social-media posts.
Last night, after the team's plane had spent hours on the runway at Portland International Airport attempting to weather the snowstorm to fly to Sacramento, Lillard posted an impromptu rap video shot with his teammates by the team's videographer, Tristan Brillanceau-Lewis.
One night later, after the Blazers finally made it to Sacramento hours before tipoff and proceeded to lose by 17 to the Kings with Lillard and Jerami Grant resting and fellow starters Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic out with injuries, he posted this tweet in response to a local talk-radio personality:
In retrospect, it wasn't hard to see the discourse coming. Two weeks after a deadline that saw the Blazers trade a starter (Josh Hart) and another rotation player (Gary Payton II) for draft picks and three relatively unproven young players, they came off the All-Star break resting their two best players in a road game against a good Kings team. They're 12th in the Western Conference, with Simons out indefinitely and Nurkic out at least for right now. It's not a stretch to see why people think the final two dozen games of the season could turn into a repeat of the second half of last season, when Elijah Hughes and Keljin Blevins started multiple games and the team's obvious goal was to secure the highest pick possible in the draft lottery.
But that's not what the Blazers are going to do the rest of this season. Not on purpose, anyway.