After the Portland Trail Blazers were bounced in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, star Damian Lillard made it clear that the team wasn’t good enough to mount a real run at a title.
Now, one insider has identified the player that Lillard may believe is the missing piece — Golden State Warriors big man Draymond Green. The Athletic’s Anthony Slater said this week that Lillard is enamored with the idea of recruiting Green to play with him in Portland.
“The Blazers would love to have him,” Slater said during an appearance on the HoopsHype podcast. “(Damian) Lillard has been obsessed with getting him there for a while.”
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Green a Fit in Portland
As Slater noted, the Warriors have proven how much Green can excel in the role of small-ball center. The Warriors went 15-5 down the stretch last season after center James Wiseman was injured and Green moved into the role, he noted. The 10-year NBA veteran could also be in some of the best shape of his career, Slater added.
“He went into the summer and stayed in shape because he was in the Olympics,” Slater said. “If you talk to him or Steve Kerr, who was a coach, they thought it was so good for him because he’s usually spending the summer getting out of shape. This summer, he was in shape. It’s shown early this season. He’s still his same self defensively. To this very early point, he’s probably the best defensive player in the league because they have worse defensive personnel, but they’re still sixth in the league in defense right now.”
Lillard has not been shy about airing his concerns about the Blazers and the makeup of the team’s roster. After the playoff exit, Lillard said that the franchise needs to do more if they want to win a championship.
“We’re not a franchise that’s just out here losing every year and getting divided. We have positive seasons; we just don’t end up with a championship,” he said, via SI.com’s All Trail Blazers. “So I feel like at this point, I basically made the decision that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been.”
Green Disengaged From Warriors Amid Down Season
While there have not been any signs that Green is looking for an exit from Golden State, the Warriors star admitted last month that he’s been disengaged from the team at times during the lean years. Immediately following the team’s five-year run to the NBA Finals that yielded three titles, the Warriors sank to the bottom of the NBA in 2019-20 with injuries to Klay Thompson and Steph Curry.
Green admitted to The Ringer’s Logan Murdock that he had trouble feeling passion for basketball during this season.
“I wasn’t interested in the game,” Green said.
“It was just a totally different situation that I was dealing with for the first time in my life on top of the abruptness of it,” Green said. “You couldn’t have told me three months before that I would go from the best team ever to the f–king worst team in the NBA.
“It was frustrating. And it was also a mind-f–k.”