All-Star Game: Lillard - has it hit you yet?
NEW ORLEANS – Nate McMillan, the former Portland Trail Blazers head coach and now assistant for the Indiana Pacers, is going to run your Trail Blazers franchise point guard Damian Lillard into the ground tonight.
Well, not really. Although he could, being that he is the head coach of Team Grant Hill in the Rising Stars Challenge, the same squad Lillard is on.
“He’s playing 40 minutes tonight,” McMillan jokingly said.
McMillan calls Lillard sunshine for the way in which he revitalized the point guard play in Portland, a position of need the organization desperately needed for some time.
Sunshine may be fitting considering Lillard will be participating in all five major events here during All-Star Weekend, a feat no player in the history of the game has ever done. His sun will be shinning the entire weekend.
But that doesn’t mean Lillard needs to be in scorching hot mode to start the festivities off tonight with a boatload of minutes.
“I’ll talk to with him (about playing time) because he’s in every thing this weekend,” McMillan said. “I spoke with him earlier. He’s excited about it. He’s a young guy and he’ll be able to handle it. But I’ll talk to him and see how much he wants to play.”
And when Lillard is playing, expect to see some familiar offensive plays being run to get him open.
“We’re going to run,” McMillan said. “We’re going to get up and down. That rub-4 that Portland runs, the shake and all those sets, we’ll be running some of that for Damian, no question.”
Joel Freeland is out for at least a month with an MCL sprain in his right knee. That’s a serious blow to a second unit that has already received its share of criticism for its lack of production.
Some have begun to speculate that the Trail Blazers need to make a move at the Feb. 20 trade deadline for insurance purposes. The team’s three-time All-Star power forward thinks not.
“Nah, I don’t think so because we still have Meyers [Leonard], who everybody loves, and we have T-Rob [Thomas Robinson] who is a physical guy down low,” Aldridge responded. “So I think we have a guy who can fill that void until Joel comes back.”
Victor Oladipo has a flamboyant personality and one sick game to match it. He’s one of the young up-and-coming talents to keep and eye on. Like Damian Lillard, he wants to showcase his skillset on the grandest basketball stage.
However, he’ll have to wait his turn.
Oladipo reached out to the league to relay his desire to partake in this year’s Slam Dunk Contest, a source informed CSNNW.com. But due to this year’s unexpected interest from star-level players, Oladipo was left out of the competition.
“It would have been cool to do it, but it’s what’s best for the league,” Oladipo told CSNNW.com. “Whatever they want to do, it’s cool with me. Wherever they want me at, it’s cool with me. I just want to come in and have a good time.”
So now we can only imagine how he would have fared.
“I think I would have did alright, he said with a smirk.”