Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: ‘The grass is not always greener’

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Trail Blazers Damian Lillard to Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - 'The grass is not always greener'

On Tuesday, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard was asked what advice he’d give to Oklahoma City Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, based on the latest NBA trade rumors floating around.

“The grass is not always greener on the other side,” said Lillard. His response answers questions concerning trade rumors of his own these last couple of months. For now, the 11-year veteran will remain with Portland.

According to a number of NBA betting sites, the Trail Blazers have the 14th-lowest odds to win the championship in 2023. A few sportsbooks show greater odds for the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers.

“You never know what it’s going to look like or how the next team might view you, especially when you’ve had some injuries like he’s had,” Damian Lillard added.

“You just don’t know. Also, I would tell him a lot of these people that are saying ‘free him’ and all of these things or whatever, they are not the people that are going to have to live with the consequences if it doesn’t work out. They’re not gonna ever have to walk in his shoes.”

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard believes breakout star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is better off staying with the Thunder

Gilgeous-Alexander should only focus on things he can control. Through 28 starts this season, the fifth-year player is logging career-high numbers. He is averaging 31.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.0 block per game. Plus, the guard’s shooting 50.1% from the floor and 34.5% beyond the arc.

Furthermore, Gilgeous-Alexander ranks third in points (877), 19th in assists (163), sixth in steals (47), third in field goals (291), second in 2-point field goals (262), and sixth in player efficiency rating (27.3%). Lillard has never left the Trail Blazers, but he still makes a fine point.

Not to mention, the Thunder guard leads the NBA in free throw percentage (93.3%) and free throws (266). On Nov. 16, in Oklahoma City’s 121-120 win over the Washington Wizards, the 24-year-old tied his career high in scoring with 42 points. Just imagine SGA on a team like the Trail Blazers with Lillard. It could happen years from now.

Last August, the Kentucky product signed a five-year, $173 million contract extension with Oklahoma City. Additionally, since Gilgeous-Alexander is the betting favorite to win NBA Most Improved Player of the Year this season, it would be a dumb move for Thunder G.M. Sam Presti to trade him.

When Chet Holmgren returns next year healthy, the 2023-24 season will indicate whether or not trading SGA makes sense. Oklahoma City has the perfect opportunity to build something special around Holmgren and Gilgeous-Alexander. Trading away a breakout player would spoil it.