Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard joined Taylor Danforth and Brandon Sprague of 1080 The Fan to discuss the offseason and free agency.
Here's the audio. A partial transcript from the conversation is included below.
What have you worked on this summer?
The biggest thing is my conditioning. Trying to get into better shape going into this USA camp. Working on a lot of shooting. I know going into that camp I'm going to have to be an outside threat to shoot the ball in that Euro game. The same stuff, finishing, floaters, passing, pick-and-roll stuff.
It was tough. When we played them, our competitive nature was telling us that we weren't playing well enough or that we have to play harder. The better team won. The Spurs, from Game 7 against Dallas through our series and the rest of the playoffs, they played great. They deserved to win the championship, they played like a championship team. They overwhelmed us, how well they executed, how hard they played consistently. How they moved the ball, it was tough.
Shot against Rockets
When the season ended I had a chance to watch it a bunch of times. During the season, you don't realize a lot of the things that happen. ... You just move on from it. After the season, you get a chance to look back, to see what our team was able to accomplish, what guys were able to accomplish individually. When I look at that shot, I'm looking at people's reaction to it, the fans reaction to it. The fact that that shot pushed us over the hump to the next round, something we hadn't done in 14 years, it was a great feeling. Every time I saw it when the season ended, it was like, 'Wow, that really happened.'
It was crazy. Basically all of our teammates we hung out together after that, to share that moment, not take that moment for granted. Around the city, not only about the shot, but they were complimenting us on how well we played and how they appreciated us. The city was so lively. I remember driving away from the arena and people were running around with Trail Blazers shirts and jerseys on, making a lot of noise, honking their horns. It was a great night for Rip City.
Are you keeping tabs on Blazers summer moves?
I said what players I like. What I think could help our team. That's not my job. My job is to show up in shape, improved, to help our team. That's all I can control. I can say my opinion and what I think. [GM] Neil [Olshey] is great at what he does, coach [Terry] Stotts is great at what he does, [owner] Paul Allen is great at what he does. They brought me here to play basketball. That's what I'm going to show up prepared to do.
Should players take less money to form superteams?
You can say what you want about taking less money for the sake of the team. The Miami Heat just won two championships, it worked for them for two years. Nobody on Dallas three years ago took less money and they won a championship. San Antonio had guys, second-rounders, undrafted, and they won a championship. Guys played as a team. When you play as a team and believe, I think anybody can get it done. I think that's kind of overrated, bringing stars together and taking less money to win. Anybody can win. Our team could have won. Any team in the playoffs had the chance to get it done. I don't really buy into that.
What pieces are missing?
I practice with my guys every day. I see what they are capable of and my expectations reach high. I see a guy like Will Barton, I see him going hard in practice, I see his ability, what he can do. Same thing with CJ McCollum and same thing with Thomas Robinson. I feel like they can do what our team needs. I feel like that's what it's going to come down. I don't think if we have the same team as we have right now that we can't be a better team next season. I've seen how hard they work. My belief in them is that they can come back and give us that contribution that we need from coming in. I think we can get that from the guys we have.
Of course there's guys out there that we could get to come in and spark our team. I mentioned a guy like Vince Carter, a guy who can fill it up and give you great scoring. A guy like Spencer Hawes who can shoot the ball. When [LaMarcus Aldridge] isn't in the game, it's a guy that can stretch the floor, he's a knockdown shooter. A guy like Channing Frye who can bring the same thing. There's a lot of guys who can come in and help our team.
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