Jusuf Nurkic: “If Lillard leaves Portland, so am I.”

Aug 9, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers celebrates a win against the Philadelphia 76ers with Jusuf Nurkic #27 following a game at Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 09, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida

The Portland Trail Blazers offseason has got off to a tumultuous start. With the speculation around Damian Lillard, his teammate Jusuf Nurkic is set to make a big decision. According to the Bosnian web portal Klix, Nurkic was asked about his tenure with Portland and his future with the team.

Nurkic, speaking in Bosnian, discussed the whirlwind of storylines within the organization. Moreover, the 26-year old wasn’t told players were involved in the team’s trade talks.

“As far as I’m concerned, I was told that no one will be traded and only the coach will change. In the last game of the season, I said change must happen. In four years, we only had one Western Conference Final, which is relatively small for a team like Portland.”

Jusuf Nurkic

The news comes after Chauncey Billups agreed to become the new head coach of the Trail Blazers. The 2003 NBA Finals MVP, Billups, signed a five-year deal with Portland. Additionally, he has experience serving as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Nurkic has been playing alongside Lillard since the 2016-17 season. He has also been in the starting lineup as the team’s center for multiple seasons. Furthermore, he has many decisions to make with the trade rumors around Lillard.

“I don’t know what has changed with Lillard in these two days. As far as I know, the man stays there, but if he goes, I leave Portland as well. It would be unintelligent to let a loyal man like Lillard go.”

Jusuf Nurkic

Lillard’s impact on the Trail Blazers franchise

Mar 1, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) talks to center Jusuf Nurkic (27) on the bench against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena. The Raptors beat the Trail Blazers 119-117
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Lillard has been the focal point of the Trail Blazers over his successful career. Entering the 2021-22 season, his future in Portland is very uncertain following the recent moves within the organization.

The six-time All-Star’s decisions will have a significant impact on the development of the team. As well as play a role in the team’s success in the regular season and playoffs. He averaged 28.8 points, 7.5 assists, and 4.2 rebounds for Portland this season. The Trail Blazers lost in six games against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference first round.

The Trail Blazers have nine players in the free agency market this season. With the news around Lillard on another team, the speculations could impact the decision-making process with Portland.

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