He never had issues with the most sought after free agent LaMarcus Aldridge of this offseason, said Damian Lillard. Their relationship was one of the reasons Aldridge decided to depart from Portland to land in San Antonio Spurs.
“Our relationship was fine,” Lillard said. “Me and LA never had an argument. People are searching for something that’s not there. When you have two All-Stars on the same team and one of them decides to leave, it’s automatically, ‘They didn’t get along.’ We had back-to-back 50-win seasons. We both made the All-Star team. We played through him and after that it was me and that was that. We played well together. We never had an issue.”
Lillard wanted to rebuild the Blazers roster with a handful of youngsters. Neil Olshey supported Lillard in this regard. Olshey admitted that Lillard has huge contributions in resurrecting the Portland roster with his youth development proposal.
“This was not done without Dame’s participation,” Olshey said. “If he was at all reticent, if he said it would be great if you could get me another vet to help out, we would have gone out and found a couple of other guys to take the pressure off of him. He’s not that kind of kid. He embraces it. He thrives on it.”
With four starters leaving the side which won 105 games in the last two seasons, Lillard and Co have to start from scratch. And Damian is confident before doing it.
“I mean, I am,” Lillard says. “People say stuff like, he’s not a franchise player or this guy is a franchise player, but the franchise makes that decision. I didn’t make that decision. The franchise did. It’s more than being the best player on the team, especially with a young team like the one we have. You’re the example and the standard is here.”