As loyal as long-tenured Blazer Damian Lillard wants to remain in Portland, emotions have to be taken out of any decision regarding his future with the franchise. He has sounded quite delusional the past few years claiming he will pursue a title in Portland until he can no longer walk any longer but the reality is he just doesn’t have enough to get it done with the Blazers even if he came out every night scoring 35+ plus for a full season. Damian Lillard has done enough in Portland, he’s arguably the best Blazer of all-time although he does fall short to former legend Clyde Drexler and arguably Bill Walton as well who lead the Portland Trailblazers to their only championship in league history back in 1977. Dame lead the Blazers to the playoffs year after year even after Lamarcus Aldridge’s departure and has stayed ten toes down in Portland and hasn’t budged one bit; let alone give any indication he wants out of the organization but his time in Portland is up. It’s time for the Blazers to focus on developing the young talent from within and focus on a rebuild around youngsters Anfernee Simons,Nassir Little, and young gun Shaedon Sharpe has been the lone bright spot for the Blazers in the second half of this season.
Early on this season I didn’t really pay much attention to the kid but I did notice he was scoring in double figures a ton off the bench early on this season; and now with the season lost for the Blazers Shaedon has been scoring 20+ points at will ever since head coach Chauncey Billups put him in the starting lineup. The kid has good size for a guard, not to mention he is a willing passer with a near 7 foot wingspan. He has arms as long as Jazz guard Talen Horton-Tucker who’s wingspan at 6″4′-6″5′ is quite impressive but what separates him from a guard like Talen is he is already ahead of what Talen was in his rookie season and if the Blazers eventually stick a fork on the Damian Lillard experiment and grant him free reign alongside Anfernee Simons the Blazers won’t be rebuilding for long. Shaedon has the makings of a star and I don’t say that because he’s scored 20+ points over the past 6-7 games but because he has every tool to become one. Long arms,big hands,explosive,shifty,an above average handle, and he can create his shot with ease and isn’t shy at drawing contact and scoring through traffic.
Damian Lillard for as good as he has been in Portland for over a decade is practically a one trick pony where he’s going to bury you 6 feet under if he’s got his shot going for an entire night but that’s practically it. He’s 32 years old and could probably play at the inhuman level he has been playing at for at least another 2 seasons but why let that go to waste in a situation where a championship won’t be possible? I mean sure Portland could just be auditioning Shaedon Sharpe for all I know and will look to package him with draft picks and another piece or two for a Paul George if he just so happens to become available but would that even make sense? A duo of Damian Lillard and Paul George in Portland would give Dame a puncher’s chance at a championship but it certainly wouldn’t be guaranteed considering not only the competition out West but also what I like to call the 3 juggernauts of the East in Jayson Tatum,Joel Embiid,and Giannis Antetokoumpo who are also hungry and vying for championships. That said I think it’s best Portland cuts the cord this off-season with Damian Lillard even if general manager Neil Oshney will have to endure boos and a truckload of backlash for a couple months before Shaedon Sharpe shows them it was the best decision they ever made for the franchise.
And I hate to masquerade Damian Lillard into a burden but I’ve just seen enough at this point. Not too long ago Damian Lillard was out for a decent stretch and Anfernee Simons was piling up win after win practically playing at a MVP level and that’s when I came to the conclusion the keys needed to be handed to him at that point. As much as head coach Chauncey Billups wanted to push the potential of a Simons-Lillard back-court I just wasn’t buying it because their front-court was just nothing to really scoff at. Retracting to rising guard Shaedon Sharpe, it’s time for Portland to change up the personnel. Unless a Joel Embiid or Kawhi Leonard isn’t walking through that door I’m ready for the Shaedon Sharpe show in Portland. The kid’s got star potential and although he might never reach Damian Lillard heights in his respective career he would help introduce a new era in Portland. He’s got arsenal of a player who could average 25-30 points per game down the line, I mean the kid is just relentless scoring the basketball. He can rock you to sleep with side to side dribbles and go into step backs, he’s got long enough arms to extend himself in mid-air and convert lay-ups from within the free-throw line, his post-game isn’t a strength but the kid is 19. That’s not something a full off-season or two can’t fix.
These things happen, I thought Paul George was getting ready to carve out a legacy in Indiana which would’ve superseded anything Pacers legend Reggie Miller ever amassed in Indiana and low and behold Victor Oladipo stepped in in Paul’s absence and managed to get the Pacers into the playoffs the following season. They also moved on from Oladipo and now Tyrese Haliburton is looking to fill in shoes no one since Reggie Miller himself filled in Indianapolis, unless you want to count the short-lived days of Ron Artest and Jermaine O’Neal in the early 2000’s, two former Pacers all-stars who held it down in Indiana for a couple seasons. Shaedon Sharpe? Wouldn’t be shocked if he’s averaging 20-23 ppg next season if Dame is out of the picture, and no I am no prisoner of the moment I just know a star when I see one. The Blazers need to trot out Simons,Sharpe,and Little 30+ minutes all of next season and even if that get’s you only 30-35 wins with a grand-slam in the 2024 NBA Draft the Blazers will be back in business sooner then later. To conclude Portland needs to get very bold this off-season, with 5-6 games remaining in this regular season it’s becoming more and more evident Dame Dolla will just continue to show the Moda Center he is a blast from the past and nothing more.