While the Portland Trail Blazers may not yet have that final major piece that will put them over the edge in the playoffs, they do have two star-caliber players that want to be here; not something every team can boast about.
Jason Quick of the Athletic wrote about Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and their ties to Portland as they work to build a winning team.
With Portland being a smaller market, in a state with an income tax on the higher side, the Blazers need players who love the city. As Quick describes, they have two in Lillard and McCollum:
When CJ McCollum asked his girlfriend, Elise, to marry him last week, it was in part with Portland in mind.
The Trail Blazers guard, who turned 27 last Wednesday, says he wants to get married and raise his kids here, and perhaps add another home in the area to the one he already owns.
Meanwhile, his backcourt mate, Damian Lillard, has developed even deeper roots. Lillard not only owns a home in Portland, he also lives here year round, partaking in everything from roller skating at Oaks Park to jet skiing on the Willamette River. His son, Damian Jr., was born here last March.
Quick goes on to describe President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey’s reciprocal commitment to the two guards:
It’s why Olshey said he eschewed the urge to “bottom out” and do a full rebuild after LaMarcus Aldridge left, or during the 2016-2017 season when the team scrapped to finish eighth.
“We knew we had a responsibility to Damian and his career — and now it’s CJ and guys like Farouq and Nurk — to give them the best opportunity to win,” Olshey said. “I don’t think (Portland) is a marketplace that will stand still to watch a team bottom out just for the panacea of cap room, which may or may not ever come to fruition in terms of an impact player, or of a draft pick. I don’t know if those vehicles and that strategy are viable, and I don’t know if in a market like this that is used to winning it is the most ethical, either.”
Looking around the league at the huge quantity of stars demanding trades or leaving their teams in free agency, it’s a reassuring feeling to have two stars who want to be in Portland.
You can read the entire article here. A subscription is required.