The Los Angeles Lakers landed Russell Westbrook this offseason via a blockbuster trade, although LeBron James and Co. seemed to have another option in mind before landing the former MVP.
Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard revealed in an extensive interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he, LeBron James and Anthony Davis met up this summer for an “information-gathering forum.” While he didn’t make it sound like an outright recruiting trip, the message of the conversation was clear — James wanted Lillard to join him in Los Angeles.
“’Bron asked what I was thinking with my situation, and I told him what I’m telling you: that I just want to be in a position to win it all,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “He painted the picture to me that if I were to leave, the situation could look like this. He didn’t tell me to come to L.A., and he didn’t say anything to me that I didn’t already know other than what it could look like. I told him, ‘I know if I were to play with y’all, I know it would work out because of my skill set,’ and who I am and who they are.”
Westbrook spoke of a similar type of meeting with Davis and James before requesting a trade and landing in Los Angeles. Lillard was more resistant to joining a superteam after building his name in Portland.
“I was just saying, I don’t know if this is the route I wanted to go,” Lillard told Haynes. “And that was pretty much how the conversation went.”
Lillard Did Not Feel He ‘Belonged’ In Los Angeles
Haynes has quite the in with Lillard and was the source of a report over the summer that said the Blazers star was looking for a way out of Portland after falling in the first round to an undermanned Nuggets team.
However, the franchise was able to settle things down and Lillard felt good about calling Portland home a while longer.
“I’m sure it would be great to play with LeBron and AD and play in a big market, but as attractive as it sounded and as fun as that might be, I don’t feel in my heart that that’s who I am or where I belong,” Lillard said. “And one thing I want to emphasize is that this decision wasn’t made out of comfort. I’m not afraid to be out of my comfort zone because I’m going to live here when I’m done playing regardless. I made my decision based on what I actually want to do.”
Lakers Making Progress With Integrating Westbrook
It wasn’t an easy transition to fit Westbrook into the Lakers’ game plan but the team has made large strides just eight games into the season. Westbrook notched 27 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in LA’s latest win against the Rockets. James (30 points) and Anthony Davis (27 points) also had their most complete performance alongside Westbrook.
“I just think those guys are all an attack mode,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said. “I thought we did a great job screening, in particular at the beginning of the 4th. That stretch in the fourth where LeBron was just going downhill possession, after possession, after possession. The screens were great you know? They free him up. Those are the things we’re working on to improve.”
The Lakers take on the Thunder on Thursday before seeing Lillard and the Blazers on Saturday.