Portland Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard recently shared some thoughts on Gary Payton II’s trade to the Golden State Warriors, during his appearance on the #thisleague UNCUT podcast over NBA All-Star Weekend.
More specifically, he touched on the controversy surrounding Payton’s abdominal injury, wished his former teammate the best, and discussed not wanting to see the Warriors improve.
“Obviously, with it being looked into and we’ve seen more facts come out, Gary’s still dealing with some pain and some stress, which is something that’s possible when you come off of surgery and you start playing. When you get back out there, you never know what can happen. But I just hope that he get healthy. I didn’t want to see him go back to Golden State because I know he makes (his team) better, so I didn’t want to see that happen.”
Before being traded at the deadline, Payton appeared in 15 games for Portland this season. He averaged 4.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.1 steals in 17 minutes per game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Wants Bucks to be Like Warriors
All-Star Weekend was seemingly the center for chatter about Golden State. In addition to Lillard, Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo shared some thoughts about the Dubs as well.
Antetokounmpo had high praise for the Warriors in an interview with Draymond Green at the NBA All-Star Game, saying “great habits” have made them an example of what a championship team looks like.
“We gotta build good habits. Just like you guys. You guys have built for six or seven years, great habits,” he told Green, who was part of TBS’ broadcast team. “Like, no matter where you guys are in the ranking, you guys always have the opportunity to win because you’ve built such good habits that are hard to break.”
Responding to Green’s question about what it would take for his team, the Milwaukee Bucks, to win the title this season, Antetokounmpo said, “So, that’s what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to build good habits right now, play good basketball, get guys healthy, compete defensively, and maybe that gives us a chance to win a championship.”
Giannis and the Bucks are currently sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference, just a half-game behind the first-place Boston Celtics.
Ja Morant Respects Warriors, But Doesn’t Fear Western Conference
Green had a busy night on Sunday. On top of interviewing the Greek Freak, he also challenged Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant on a statement he made earlier this year. Morant had claimed to ESPN’s Malika Andrews that he wasn’t worried about any teams in the Western Conference, citing the Celtics as the only threat to the Grizzlies.
“[Teams] got better at the trade deadline. Are you still ‘fine in the West,’ and which teams are you looking at now and saying, ‘That team has to be reckoned with?’” Green asked Morant.
Since Morant made his bold claim in December, there’s been plenty of changes in the Western Conference. The trade deadline saw Kevin Durant joining the Phoenix Suns, Kyrie Irving joining the Dallas Mavericks, and the Los Angeles Clippers loading up with supporting pieces.
“Definitely got to look at Phoenix now with adding [Durant],” Morant told Green. “Obviously, we can’t shy away from [the Warriors], everybody knows y’all always in contention. Champs. Still Boston, man. But yeah, I’m still fine in the West.”