Lillard's thoughts on addition of Steve Blake
LAS VEGAS – Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard took time out of his hectic schedule to make an unexpected appearance in Las Vegas to show support for his young teammates as they got their first win in Summer League play over the Houston Rockets Sunday night.
The newly minted superstar flew in from Portland Sunday afternoon and has an early return flight Monday morning to make it back for the his basketball camp.
“I just wanted to be here so they know that I care,” he said. “I care about how they’re improving and wanted to be here to encourage them. I care.”
Someone else Lillard cares about is no longer with the team. That gentleman is free agent guard Mo Williams. The acquisition of Steve Blake sealed any possibility of Williams returning for a second season after the guard opted out of his contract with the Trail Blazers earlier this offseason. Williams is seeking a three-year deal in free agency.
Lillard says the pickup of Steve Blake was “big” and added that he’s looking forward to playing alongside him. But he admitted that it was a bit difficult to wrap his mind around the fact that his “brother” wouldn’t be around anymore.
“I was disappointed because that’s my brother,” Lillard told CSNNW.com. “He’s always been there for me. When I did something wrong, he was the first one showing showing me how I should have done it.
“When I did something good, he was the first person telling me how proud he was of me. When I’m alone on the road, he’s the one that’ll come hang with me. That’s my guy. I thought he would be coming back, but I understand this is a business.”
This is the fourth time that Lillard has dealt with such a loss in his brief NBA career. His rookie season, it was Ronnie Price, who he had a relationship with prior to entering the league. Then, Eric Maynor and JJ Hickson departed.
But Lillard experienced success with Williams. They clicked from the jump. Williams embraced Lillard as if he was his younger brother and it was something Lillard needed. Sometimes business just has a way of interfering.
“He’s someone who I can say will be a friend forever,” Lillard said. “We got that close in a year. He’s was the one guy I wanted back the most but that’s not in my power and I understand that. We still talk and plan to link up down the road but it’s tough to know he’s not coming back.”
Williams is still out on the open market weighing his options. We’re told the point guard declined to take the bi-annual salary Blake ended up receiving. Williams desired to return but under the right terms. That’s the way things go in the association.
In life, you move on. There’s a healing process that goes along with that but after that, you get back to work. And that’s exactly what he’ll do next.
“I like our team with the new pieces,” he said. “We’re better because of it. Chris Kaman and Steve Blake filled some holes and now we have to put it all together. I’m excited for next season.”