While the rumored trade never materialized, Damian Lillard apparently likes the idea of playing before the Golden State Warriors fans.
The Warriors reportedly discussed the idea of trading for the six-time All-Star earlier this summer, though it never appeared to move beyond the discussion phase. Some new remarks from Lillard this week show that he may be open to the idea of returning to his home in the Bay Area, however.
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Lillard Shows Love for the Bay
The Portland Trail Blazers star, who grew up in Oakland, recently told Christopher Kamrani of The Athletic that he definitely feels the love from fans when he plays against the Warriors. Lillard was speaking from his alma mater Weber State where he visited for offseason workouts, and said he gets a warm welcome both in the Bay Area and Utah, where he played his college ball.
“It’s a special connection. It means a lot to me because it’s similar to when I go home to Oakland and I play against the Golden State Warriors,” Lillard said. “When they call my name in the starting lineups, the crowd shows me a lot of love and it’s the same when we play against the Jazz. They say ‘from Weber State’ and everybody just kind of goes crazy out of love.
“It’s a great level of appreciation on my side, because these are the people that had this type of appreciation for me before the rest of the world even knew who I was. I never lose sight of that. I never take that for granted.”
The Warriors had at least some level of interest in bringing Lillard back home. As Anthony Slater of The Athletic reported back in July, the Warriors paid close attention to the rumors that Lillard wanted out of Portland.
“They’d make a call and have already internally discussed the idea, as I’m sure most contenders have, considering the rising smoke out of Portland,” Slater reported.
Lillard Addresses Trade Rumors
After a number of reports that he had asked for a trade to start the summer, Lillard spoke up to quash the rumors. He told The Athletic this week that he felt the need to speak out to defend himself and clear up the situation.
“Some things I’ve just got to let it be said. I know what the truth is,” he said. “I know where I stand. It’s not my duty to make the public know … it’s not my job to make them aware of what that is.
“It definitely has been different. I feel like I’ve handled it like I’ve handled everything. I just let it happen. I let people talk and I just stay true to who I am and I stand on that. If I say something, I stand on what I said. It is what it is, at this point.”
If Lillard were to end up on the trade block, it would likely take quite a haul to convince Portland to trade him. He remains one of the league’s top guards, averaging 28.8 points with 7.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game last season.