LAS VEGAS — Damian Lillard ended up in the middle of the NBA’s silly season, and he’s not exactly sure how.
He sent out a Tweet after Portland let Ed Davis walk to Brooklyn (one of Lillard’s good friends on the team). That spiraled into speculation he was unhappy with the Blazers because he wants to compete in the gauntlet that is the West and Portland has largely stood pat this summer. Combine that with another Tweet and somehow — in the minds of warped Laker fans/sports talk radio hosts looking for a shock — became “Lillard wants to play with LeBron James and the Lakers.”
Lillard shot all that down in Las Vegas.
“I’m not unhappy. I love where I live. I love the organization. I love our coaching staff. I love where I am,” Lillard said, holding court during Summer League.
Portland is one of the many teams cash-strapped this summer, and fans are pissed. Thanks to the foolish 2016 contracts of Evan Turner and Meyers Leonard (plus don’t forget the now-traded Allen Crabbe), the Blazers are flirting with the luxury tax line. Forget chasing big name free agents, they lost Davis and a couple other rotation players, Shabazz Napier and Pat Connaughton. They made a smart signing with Seth Curry (who can help if he is healthy) but are leaning on guys playing in Las Vegas this week, Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr., to handle rotation minutes.
Lillard was honest, he didn’t want Davis to go.
“Obviously, I loved Ed,’’ Lillard said. “He was one of my best friends in the league; one of my favorite teammates I’ve played with. We lose him – that’s a loss for our team. Bazz played big minutes for us, Pat played big minutes for us – so we lose three rotation players that gave us a lot and contributed to our season last year. But I guess now we look forward to who can come in and replace those minutes and give us that type of quality.’’
Does Lillard want to compete? Yes. He met with ownership last year to express that directly. But he wants to do it In Portland, where he has spent all of his six-year career.
“We got people out here going all out to try and make it happen, and I want us to do the same thing,” Lillard said. “And I feel like we are trying to do that.”