During press availability ahead of the Team USA exhibition games, Portland Trail Blazers’ point guard Damian Lillard responded to questions regarding the hiring of Chauncey Billups as the team’s head coach. Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report asked Lillard if knowing the allegations made in 1997 impacts how he feels about the hire now.
“When I said that I didn’t know, I meant, right away when we let Terry go, I was asked about names that had been floated out there. And of the ones that had been floated out there, I said I like J-Kidd and I like Chauncey. And that time, I had no idea of any of it. When I did learn of it and the process continued, I never felt like it was my job or my duty to say ‘do this’ or ‘don’t do this.’ I do my job, I improve my game and show up as the point guard of the team. In the past, I’ve never stepped on anybody’s toes or demanded anything or told anybody what to do and it was no different in this situation. That’s all I can really say. I’ve known Chauncey before and I never knew of that until this coaching process came into play. Our organization said they did a thorough investigation and went through everything, they went through the process of hiring a coach as they did, in a comfortable way. That’s not my decision or my job to say ‘This guy is hired ‘ or ‘This guy’s not hired ‘ or anything. This is what it is now. So here we are.”
Lillard also stated that if he had something to say, he would say it.
Damian Lillard: "All of the people who have covered me since I've been here should know that if I have something to say, I'll say it and stand behind it. Everything I have to say, I've said to Neil directly. I don't really have nothing to say to you guys about it."— Sean Highkin (@highkin) July 8, 2021
According to Highkin, Lillard is looking forward to the future.
“I’m prepared to go in and do my job like I always do. Hopefully we can make strides in a positive direction and become a better team with a new coach.”