No matter what else happened, the success of the Portland Trail Blazers’ 2021 offseason hinged on Norman Powell re-signing with the team out of unrestricted free agency. On August 6, news of Powell’s return via a five year, $90 million contract prompted a massive sigh of relief from the Portland faithful.
At the Trail Blazers Media Day 2021, Powell discussed the factors that led to his decision to return.
“For me you have to go where you’re most wanted, where you’re most loved. Neil and Chauncey, I talked to them a couple of times throughout the summer. Neil was very forward about how they felt about me, their plans for me and the future of the team.”
“Dame and CJ both reached out to me before free agency started to see where my head’s at, Dame texted me, told me that he wanted me back here, To get a message like that from him, the franchise player, means everything to me. I’m about loyalty, I’m about working and being committed to the grind and that’s what this team’s about. And I want to help them get over that hump. We didn’t get a chance to do that last year when they acquired me through the trade for many different reasons.”
Powell said that while he was aware of Lillard’s concerns about the roster, it did not impact his own decision.
“I’ve been around this league enough to know it’s a business, I’m not a player who gets caught up in the rumors and what’s being said and what’s being put there throughout the media, half the reason why I don’t like to talk to the media, just kidding. I wasn’t worried about it.”
“I felt like he (Lillard) was going to stay, I didnt see a real reason why he’d leave but he wants to win, but putting the pressure on the organization to makes changes that make him feel comfortable enough that we’re going to compete for a championship is the biggest thing. I think we made some great moves.”
Powell also discussed the challenges of assimilating into the team at last season’s trade deadline.
“I’m excited to actually sit down and go through a full season, go through training camp, really get to know the guys.”
“Not in that brief couple of months trying to figure out how I fit in and catch up to what they’re doing and get acclimated but actually start from scratch and get going. We got a group of guys who are hungry, willing to put the work in, willing to make adjustments within the coaching staff.”
“I feel like I’m here now, I’m really part of the team and to be able to sit down and talk to Dame, CJ, Chauncey and the other guys throughout the course of the season, really put input on how we can get better.”
He also discussed the disappointment of the Blazers’ first round playoff loss to the Denver Nuggets.
“I think it’s better that way, it takes out the excuses, this happened, that happened, now we can sit down and see who made the mistakes, where it happened and how we can fix them.”
“We can hold ourselves individually to a higher standard offensively and defensively.”
“We want to win a championship and we’re serious about that, we’re going to have to take more accountability for ourselves and what we need to do to reach that goal. And for me, talking to Chauncey and Neil, it’s the defensive end, holding yourselves to the standards of doing what needs to be done. The physicality, the little things, the rotations, things like that, talking, finishing plays and not resting on that side of the ball, which is getting us over that hump.”