For the first time in a couple years at Media Day, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard dodged the question fans hate the most.
“Are you happy in Portland?”
“Do you want a trade?”
“Are you frustrated that you haven’t won?”
Those questions were silenced when Lillard signed a two-year max extension with the team this offseason, but there was somewhat of an unofficial changing of the guard by the nature of the Blazers star’s press conference today.
Lillard is excited about the team’s changes it made over the offseason and the team’s outlook for the upcoming season.
“I believe in Joe, I believe in Chauncey,” Lillard said at Media Day. “I think what we did with our roster gave us a much better chance than what we’ve had prior to that. The way it looks and feels, we’re much closer.”
The changes he’s excited about? Trading for Jerami Grant, signing Gary Payton II, bringing back Jusuf Nurkic and Anfernee Simons and drafting Shaedon Sharpe. Those changes were necessary after the team’s transition season last year where injuries limited Lillard to 29 games and the Blazers to 27 wins. But sitting on the sidelines most of the season offered Lillard a different experience compared to what he’s had for most of his career.
“[Last season] was probably the first time in my career that I was able to just watch,” Lillard said in his press conference. “I was able to be with my family and focus on myself personally without the responsibility of performing. I just think it recharged me. I’m calm. At peace. Excited to play again.”
Now that he’s recharged, Lillard hopes to bring the Blazers back into contention in the Western Conference and one day, a championship for Portland.