Damian Lillard let it be known this past offseason that he wanted the Portland Trail Blazers to keep then restricted free agent forward Maurice Harkless. The decision by the team to re-sign him has paid off. Originally acquired from the Orlando Magic for a future 2nd round pick in 2015, the former 1st round pick has been one of the few bright spots for the Trail Blazers this season. In addition to averaging career highs in both points (13.0) and rebounds (5.3) per game, he has also been one of the team’s best defensive players.
Lillard recently spoke with the media about what Harkless gives them on the floor.
When asked about his input regarding player personnel moves, Lillard said: “When it came to, like, going out and getting other people if they asked me my opinion on it, I told ‘em you know I’m a fan of it or I’m not a huge fan of it but when it came to my teammates I was like ‘Moe, we gotta keep Moe,’ you know what I mean? ‘We gotta do whatever it takes to do that’, and that was it.”
Harkless received attention from a number of teams in the league this summer, according to Alex Kennedy of basketballinsiders.com.
The Pistons, Wizards, Bulls, Lakers and Mavericks are among the teams interested in restricted free agent Moe Harkless, per sources.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 1, 2016
However, the Trail Blazers listened to their star player, re-signing Harkless to a 4 -year, $40 million contract, including an incentive for his 3-point shooting percentage. Lillard certainly knows the importance of team chemistry, and it looks like his decision to stick up for his teammate in contract negotiations is paying off well for everyone involved.