Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard expects Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins to start when the team plays in Orlando, he told Portland media members on a Zoom call Wednesday. Lillard believes that Carmelo Anthony will slide over to starting small forward to fill in for Trevor Ariza as well.
Dame says he "absolutely" expects both Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins to start when the season resumes.— Sean Highkin (@highkin) July 1, 2020
KGW’s Orlando Sanchez shared a video of Lillard saying that he is “way more confident” after seeing Nurkic and Collins prepare for play to resume:
.@Dame_Lillard expects Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins to start when the season resumes.— Orlando Sanchez (@orlandokgw) July 1, 2020
"They look great. They make me feel way more confident"
#RipCity @bosnianbeast27 @zcollins_33 pic.twitter.com/D0UOdnLUT3
On the Zoom call Lillard also discussed the current social justice movement happening in the United States:
Dame: "When people say All Lives Matter, well, Black people don't seem to be a part of all lives when you think about Breonna Taylor" and others.— Sean Highkin (@highkin) July 1, 2020
In addition, the Blazer star expresed his doubts about fellow players observing the NBA’s “bubble” rules at Disney World. His plan is to keep to his hotel room:
Dame on his confidence that other players will follow bubble rules: "My confidence ain't great. ... When we have 100 percent freedom, everybody doesn't follow the rules."— Sean Highkin (@highkin) July 1, 2020
Dame says he's not planning on leaving his hotel room in Orlando outside of games/practices/workouts. "I'll have my PS3, my PS4, my mic, my studio equipment. I'm chilling."— Sean Highkin (@highkin) July 1, 2020
Updates from Terry Stotts’ media availability
Head coach Terry Stotts provided additional insight to media members on Wednesday. Stotts likely sees Nurkic and Anthony starting but is weighing a decision between Collins and Whiteside for starting power forward:
Stotts says "in all likelihood" Melo and Nurk will start. Hasn't decided whether Collins will start at 4. Also hasn't ruled out starting Nurk and Whiteside together. "Why not? It'll give you guys something to write about."— Sean Highkin (@highkin) July 1, 2020
Both Nurkic and Collins will be without minutes restrictions according to Stotts:
Stotts also said he doesn't expect any minutes restrictions in Orlando on Nurkic or Collins. Says Nurkic is in best shape that he has seen since Nurkic has been in Portland— Jason Quick (@jwquick) July 1, 2020
Wednesday’s media call also brought news that Caleb Swanigan’s status for Orlando is undecided:
Terry Stotts says that Caleb Swanigan may or may not be participating in Orlando but other than him and Trevor Ariza, they're expecting all the Blazers players are in.— Sean Highkin (@highkin) July 1, 2020
And Stotts revealed that Portland’s signing of guard Jaylen Adams is aimed to provide guard depth:
Terry Stotts said the thinking behind signing G Jaylen Adams was to help the team in practices leading up to the games in Orlando. Felt team was deep at wing, but could be exposed at G if injury to Dame or CJ.— Jason Quick (@jwquick) July 1, 2020
The Blazers are scheduled to head to Orlando on July 9, with their first game taking place on July 31.