Good signs for Rip City
In case you haven’t noticed, the Portland Trail Blazers are in the midst of a significant rebuild. The 2012-13 season came and went without a trip to the playoffs, but if there was one positive takeaway, it was the performance of rookie Damian Lillard.
Damian Lillard did it on the court, but now he’s looking to make his impact felt in the free-agent market. Lillard hopes to recruit other players to come to Portland, and if he can do just that, it could solidify him as the leader this team needs moving forward.
With recent speculation surrounding LaMarcus Aldridge‘s future (according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski), it’s more important than ever for this crew to acquire talent. Rip City has never been a marquee destination for free agents, but Lillard has the potential to shift that in the other direction.
According to Chris Haynes of CSNNW, Lillard is taking it upon himself to recruit talent to the great Northwest. The NBA has become a point guard’s league, and if the Blazers’ youngster can jump on the networking train early, he’ll have time to become the team’s No. 1 reason for others to join.
As refreshing as it is to hear Lillard say he’ll reach out right away, the bigger message here is his future with the team. He was quoted telling Haynes, “I see myself here for years to come,” and that’s exactly what Blazermaniacs want to hear out of their franchise floor general.
While a lot of NBA players make the move to bigger markets, Lillard notes that the pressure of those situations simply don’t exist in Rip City. Portland has long been known for having one of the best fanbases in the NBA, and with Lillard preaching that message, it’s about time that players around the league begin to notice.
Despite only having 82 games under his belt, it’s safe to say that Lillard will be a coveted commodity when his time comes to test the market.
However, he is the kind of player—and person—who values loyalty, which is something he’s carried with him since his time at Weber State.
Lillard stated in a preseason interview for Bleacher Report that he stayed with Weber State because they were “a family-oriented program” that believed in him from the beginning. He noted that his alliance with the Blazers wasn’t yet to that point, but that he hoped they could “build that type of relationship.”
After just one season, it appears as if the 22-year-old has begun to see a future in Portland. The team is his as long as he wants it, and adding talent is the best way to improve down the road.
The point guard has quickly become a leader since day one, and it’s time for him to extend that into the offseason.
He understands the impact he can have in a small market, and he is ready to take it upon himself to improve the team for “years to come.”