Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard met with reporters following 2013 Las Vegas Summer League practice on Wednesday. Lillard -- who is officially listed on the Blazers' roster but not expected to play much, if at all -- was also in the gym on Tuesday but did not hold a media session.
Here's a transcript of his comments, in which the 2013 Rookie of the Year discusses his offseason, his areas of focus during recent workouts, his first impressions of rookie guard CJ McCollum, and a bunch of other topics.
How exciting is it to be back?
It's exciting. Last year, I was one of the guys out here nervous, didn't know what to expect. To finally be back around this environment, around my NBA family, it's exciting.
Do you feel at home here?
Yeah, I do.
What's your participation going to be like during Summer League?
I think more than anything, I'll be there for support. There's a lot of guards here. After having one season, and a lot of minutes and experience on the floor, there are probably some things I can help them with, talk them through this experience since it's their first time. I went through it also, hopefully I can just be here to help.
Would you like to play?
Maybe, we'll see. I'm not sure right now. I'm going to Vegas so you never know.
Are you practicing with everybody?
I have. I've jumped in some things. Not a lot. I work out [before practice] and then I jump in some things. Mainly I've been feeling it out and talking to the guys.
What kinds of things are you doing in your workout?
Just a lot of change of pace stuff, more rhythm stuff, instead of using my speed and quickness all the time. And floaters, different finishes in the paint so I'm not always attacking the rim and getting beat up.
CJ McCollum getting drafted at No. 10
I was excited. As soon as I saw that he hadn't been picked and we had the 10th pick, in my head, I was already smiling, because I felt like he was coming here. I think he was a great pick for us, just because he can play point guard and shooting guard. He's another four-year guard so he's mature enough to come in and play right away. He's confident. With those things, I think he'll really help our team.
What have you seen from him during this week's workouts?
He makes shots. I think that's the biggest thing you'll see. A lot of guys come in nervous, it's their first time. They might not be able to do what they normally do and make shots and perform how they're used to performing. He's been scoring the ball pretty easy, making tough shots, making open shots. That's all you can ask for.
He's a natural leader too?
Any advice you've given him?
Not really. He's just trying to be ahead a little bit. He wants to know how to guard the post, how to guard the pick-and-rolls better, because I wasn't good at it when I first came in. Still need to get better at it, but I got better at it. Some of the things I've learned how to guard the post, how to guard pick-and-rolls. I've tried to get him ahead on it so he won't be as slow at it as I was.
Will you try to pick your spots more this year to avoid hard fouls?
I think I'll just play the game more crafty. Last year, I felt like if I could blow by somebody, I would blow by them, attack the rim. This year, it will probably be more blow by them, try to keep my man behind me, shoot a floater, or shake the big man a little more rather than just going over the top on them.
Do you expect more calls now that you're not a rookie?
I'm going to try not to expect calls. I think it's better that way. Towards the end of the season, I started to get hit a little more, I started to expect it. I finished better before I got like that. I'm going to go in not expecting anything. I know I'll get some but I'm not going to depend on it.
Reflections on last season?
It felt great. Like honestly, I didn't realize the type of season I had until I looked back on it. It was a great start for my career, but I think, it's over with. It's nothing if I can't come back and be a better player and help the team improve. This summer is big for me.
What advice or questions have the new guys asked you?
The biggest thing, or the main thing, I hear is 'How did you end up at Weber State?' Or, 'Why weren't you a top 100 player?' More about my past, because to some people it seemed like I came out of nowhere with success in my first season in the NBA. Questions about my past, mainly.
Have you worked with Gary Payton yet?
I still plan on working with GP after the USA minicamp. I've just been working out in stretches because I've been traveling so much but I've been making sure that it happens. Because I'm a basketball player. I have to make sure my priorities are straight and they have been. The traveling part has been fun too but I'm making sure I get the workouts.
Every workout has been focused on what I want to improve on. I wouldn't want to just wait any time on something that isn't important. Every workout I'm tightening up my handle, tightening up my jump shot, working on things I need to improve on. The other stuff, conditioning and getting stronger, that's a separate workout. I make sure I get the stuff in that I need to get better at.
New players -- Thomas Robinson and Robin Lopez
I like them. I think it's made us a better team on paper, but we still have to put it together on the floor. But I think we've become a better team with some of the moves that we've made.
Lillard also denied any role in a late-night incident back in May in which two men alleged that associates of Lillard's beat them up.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter