While the Portland Trail Blazers came into this season with so many hopes and dreams following a historic run to the Western Conference Finals, injuries seemed to rob them of the opportunity to prove themselves as a contender once again. Yet few accounted for the man who is the heart of Rip City: Damian Lillard. Jason Quick of the Athletic argues that given Lillard’s recent play and the fact that the current lineup is coalescing under his leadership, Neil Olshey should sit this trade deadline out.
The red-hot and rollin’ Trail Blazers have one more game before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline and while we take a break to scan the thesaurus for adjectives to describe Damian Lillard’s brilliance, let’s use the time to talk about the elephant in the Moda Center.
There’s no way Neil Olshey can break up this team.
Not a chance.
Not now. Not with how drastically the Blazers have changed since the arrival of Trevor Ariza. Not with how Portland this week has marched authoritatively through Indiana (31 wins), Houston (30 wins), the Lakers (37 wins) and now Utah (32 wins). Not with how this city is starting to stir watching this dramatic turnaround.
Two factors come into play, Quick asserts. The addition of a revitalized Trevor Ariza has unlocked Hassan Whiteside’s capabilities, as the latter showed in a win over the Utah Jazz.
“Do you remember the last time we played Utah?” Hassan Whiteside asked Saturday. “I would go for the block and Gobert would get the (offensive) rebounds. Now, it’s different. We’ve got size. Trevor is unbelievable. He’s smart. He doesn’t take bad shots. He knows how to run out for easy dunks. He’s the definition of a 3 & D guy. This is a great lineup.”
In Quick’s piece, Whiteside expresses a desire to stay in Portland, noting that he owns a home here, and he would like to stay with the team beyond the current season, even after Jusuf Nurkic comes back from his injury.
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