Combine: Muhammad on Blazers, Interview
CHICAGO -- According to UCLA phenom guard/forward Shabazz Muhammad, his interview with the Portland Trail Blazers at the Chicago Draft combine went well.
He met with with Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey and his contingent, among others teams on Wednesday, and says so far, the interview with Portland was his best outing.
“It lasted for about 30 minutes,” he said. “I think it went really smooth. It was one of the smoothest ones I had. I felt really comfortable with them and it went good.”
The Trail Blazers are slotted to get the No. 10 pick, but that could change once the NBA Lottery is all said and done. Muhammad is projected in most mock drafts to be available when their number comes around.
Muhammad says he had a feeling the Trail Blazers would be in his ballpark before the 2012-13 NBA season concluded. So he reached out to Trail Blazers franchise point guard Damian Lillard when they were in town to take on the Clippers, and Muhammad says in that conversation, the possibility of them playing together in the NBA came up.
Lillard, having gone through this process a year ago, praised Muhammad.
“He's been a star for a long time,” Lillard told CSNNW.com. “He has been under a microscope for a while and for him to be able to focus and play, says a lot about him as a person. He shoots the ball pretty well. He's athletic, strong and a really good wing defender. If he landed with us, that would be great.”
Muhammad says he almost hired Aaron and Eric Goodwin of Goodwin Sports Management, the same agents that represent Lillard. But he elected to go with Bill Duffy of BDA Sports Management.
“It just felt right to go with Duffy with his history,” he said. “The Goodwin's were right there, though.”
Muhammad has clear knowledge of the Trail Blazers roster composition at the two-guard spot. Wesley Matthews and Will Barton are the only off-guards with a guaranteed contract for next season.
Asked if he thinks that is a spot he can obtain if drafted, he responded saying, “Absolutely. I really want to help them out at that position. And not even coming in and trying to score a lot. I want to come in and learn. It's a great situation for me and I think I can do a really good job there.”
He says he was asked in his interview with the Trail Blazers, if he was capable and content playing along side great players such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Lillard and Nicolas Batum. He assured them it wouldn't be an issue.
“That's a great situation for me,” Muhammad said. “With LaMarcus getting doubled all the time and Damian, who's coming off of Rookie of the Year, I think I can step in and do some things for them....That's why I say I want to come in and learn from those guys. I want to learn and at the end of the day, if you learn, you''l become better as a player.”
As of now, Muhammad isn't sure what teams he will work out for.