After years of unwavering loyalty, Lillard has begun acting on his frustration with Portland’s inability to return to the deeper rounds of the playoffs. His on-the-record support for Kidd was something that Blazers officials were not expecting, sources said, until it was published and broadcast on social media. When Lillard’s comments surfaced, several Portland staffers were surprised his public support was not for former Blazers assistant David Vanterpool, whom he previously endorsed for Minnesota’s head job.
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Otherwise, it seems Lillard was organically involved in the Blazers’ search, which does not appear to truly have considered the “20-25 candidates” that general manager Neil Olshey asserted it would. From the beginning stages of replacing Terry Stotts, Billups was always a name that Lillard and Olshey aligned on, sources said, and the Clippers assistant has received nothing but rave reviews around the league during his first year on an NBA bench.
Jorge Sierra: FWIW: Damian Lillard liked this.
(Jusuf) Nurkic hasn’t been happy with his role there. He was asked at the end of their season if he wanted to be back next season and he replied, “In the right situation, yes.” The follow-up to that was what’s the right situation? He said, “We’ll see. I don’t know yet because this is not it.” He has a non-guaranteed $12 million salary next season and people around Nurkic think Portland is going to keep him at that salary.
Bleacher Report NBA: Dame Lillard requests meeting with Blazers’ owner Paul Allen, per @johncanzanobft Damian Lillard: His word ain’t one to follow. Dude is a clown
Lillard is a nice player. A superb offensive player. And he’s carried a Blazers roster that is marginal outside of guard CJ McCollum. But if he’s one of the five best players in the NBA, then the Blazers first-round sweep in the NBA Playoffs is a bigger catastrophe than we previously imagined. Also, it would signal that Portland GM Neil Olshey not getting Lillard a supporting cast should be elevated from sin to cardinal sin. “I hear that he is asking for another meeting,” an NBA front-office source told me on Thursday.
In fact, Lillard may have already requested a follow-up meeting with owner Paul Allen, the source indicated. Apparently, the source said, Lillard’s agent Aaron Goodwin is whispering as much. If so, great. Because Goodwin might seize on the good news and utilize Thursday’s All-NBA announcement to push that Allen-Lillard meeting into fruition.
Lillard on Tuesday confirmed an ESPN report that he met with Allen on Jan. 18 to discuss the future of the franchise. The gist of the meeting? “Very simple,’’ Lillard told NBC Sports Northwest. “What are our plans to get closer to becoming a contender?’’
Lillard on Tuesday said he would not reveal the details of his meeting with Allen, and he was vague in identifying what changed in those 13 days, when his interactions with the owner went from surface level, and then escalated to a private meeting. “Opening up the line of communication,’’ Lillard said. “I don’t think there is anything wrong with communication.’’
The ESPN report says Lillard questioned some of Olshey’s moves in the meeting, including the 2015 trade of Will Barton to Denver. But Lillard on Tuesday said that is not entirely accurate. “The only thing I said about Will Barton is that he could be good on our current roster,’’ Lillard said. “Never once mentioned having an issue with the trade. That was three years ago.’’
Portland Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard met with team owner Paul Allen to gather an understanding of the organization’s direction, league sources told ESPN. The two met discreetly for approximately one hour in Allen’s office at Moda Center prior to hosting the Indiana Pacers last Thursday, sources said. It was the first home game Allen attended in 2018.
According to sources, the meeting was held without knowledge of anyone else in the organization. Allen notified the Trail Blazers’ basketball operations and business branch afterward. In the weeks leading up to the meeting, Allen feared Lillard would request a trade, sources said, but a trade request was not made. The two-time All-Star made it clear, though, that he has championship aspirations and wanted to fulfill those lofty goals during the remaining years of his prime window.
In addition, Lillard sought an explanation from Allen as to why Will Barton was traded to Denver in February of 2015, sources said. Lillard made it known he didn’t agree with the move. Barton is a penetrating, spot-up shooter — the type of player Portland could use on the wing.
Jason Quick: Lillard on whether he addressed team after Tuesday’s loss: “I didn’t feel like it was 1 of those moments. Our coaches said enough. When it feels like we are playing without desire, I will say something. That wasn’t a moment to say more. We just had bad game”
After suffering a challenging, 115-107 loss to Milwaukee, Ezeli, in street clothes, addressed the team in the locker room with a stern speech centered on playing with urgency, sources told ESPN. And then two games later, after a crushing defeat in Memphis, Ezeli once again ventured into giving a team speech. But this time, he was cut short. McCollum interrupted Ezeli in mid-sentence and told him that was enough, sources told ESPN. Portland was in the midst of an emotionally draining December, losing 11 of 13 games. Players were desperately pouring out every ounce of effort trying to change the trajectory of the season, and being lectured by someone who wasn’t even playing wasn’t received favorably.
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August 2, 2021 | 7:49 am EDT Update
There is a strong possibility that Howard returns for a third go-around with the Lakers. Howard won a title with the Lakers in 2020, but he bolted to the 76ers last season. Now, there appears to be interest on both sides to have Howard back for his physical and defensive play. Howard, 35, averaged 7.0 points and 8.4 rebounds in 17.3 minutes last season in Philadelphia, his 17th in the NBA.
Rob Schaefer: Zach LaVine on what he’s conveyed to Bulls about a potential extension. If Bulls decide to take route to cap space, pursuing upgrades through free agency or renegotiating + extending LaVine’s current contract are two options on table.
Barry Jackson: ESPN reports tonight that New Orleans and Dallas – two Lowry suitors – have begun to look elsewhere for point guards. The Dragic/Achiuwa package should get this done for Lowry barring any late issues; Achiuwa hasn’t yet been informed because talks can’t begin until 6 p.m. Monday.
Donatas Urbonas: Ignas Brazdeikis will play for the Orlando Magic in the NBA Summer League, per sources. Brazdeikis averaged 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2 assists in 8 NBA games with Orlando last season.
Rob Schaefer: Zach LaVine on keeping up with Bulls’ free agency from Tokyo: “I should have a good idea what’s going on. I take that very serious, keep up to date with what’s going on back home, but obviously still get my rest cause we got a game tomorrow. One way or another I’ll find out.”
August 2, 2021 | 1:19 am EDT Update
“It looks like [Kawhi] is expected to re-sign with the Clippers, but sources informed me that he will listen to other teams.” @ChrisBHaynes on Kawhi Leonard’s free agency