Damian Lillard Calls Out Sixers Following Matisse Thybulle Trade

Damian Lillard, Tyrese Maxey

Getty Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, Tyrese Maxey of the Philadelphia 76ers

After the Portland Trail Blazers acquired Matisse Thybulle from the Philadelphia 76ers, Trail Blazers’ star Damian Lillard called out the Sixers for what he believes was their lack of faith in Thybulle before trading him.

Lillard explained to Justin Grasso of Sports Illustrated that Thybulle’s progression as a player comes from having his team believe in him, which he believes Philadelphia did not do.

“Sometimes you just need that support, you need that love, you need people to believe in you, and I’ve seen it make a world of difference for a lot of players,” Lillard said. “It’s hard being in this league fighting, trying to earn your stay, and you’re in an environment where people don’t believe in you. It just makes it that much harder. I just wanted to encourage (Thybulle) [and] show my belief in him.”

Since joining the Trail Blazers, Thybulle is averaging 7.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and one block a game while shooting 45.9% from the field and 40.1% from three in 12 games.

Those are better numbers compared to the ones he was putting up with the Sixers, where he averaged 2.7 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.9 steals, and 0.3 blocks a game while shooting 43.1% from the field and 33.3% from three.

Matisse Thybulle Opens Up on Time With Sixers

In an interview with Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Thybulle talked about how difficult it was to stay in the Sixers’ rotation, and how the Trail Blazers are a change of pace.

“It’s hard when you are on such a talented team and a team that has so much demand to win now,” Thybulle told Pompey. “And for whatever reason, I fell out of favor in the lineup or whatever you want to call it. And I didn’t really feel like there was an opportunity to really showcase it.

“Now, it feels like I have all the opportunity in the world. The opportunity is there, and it’s going to continue to be there. I’m only receiving encouragement to take advantage of it.”

Thybulle said that playing scared would hurt anyone’s game, which he feels is no longer the case in Portland.

“Any player that’s playing out of a place of fear is going to struggle,” he said. “Like there’s going to just be friction in everything you try to do. But when you play for a place of just discipline and receptiveness to what the game’s giving and what you are reading from it. I think there’s a lot more opportunity.

“And for me, specifically, I feel like there was a lot more fear-based play in Philadelphia as opposed to what I’m doing here in Portland.”

Doc Rivers Believes Thybulle Can Thrive in Portland

Before the Sixers took on the Trail Blazers, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers admitted he was excited for the matchup while also stressing his belief that Thybulle could play well next to Lillard.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him,” Rivers said, per Ky Carlin of SixersWire. “I don’t want him to do great, obviously, but I think it’s a great place for him. I think playing along Dame and watching Dame work will help him as well at his position. You’re guaranteed to get open stuff with Dame. You have to.”

Rivers then used the Trail Blazers game against the Boston Celtics on March 8 as an example of how Lillard could help Thybulle offensively.

“Watching Boston last night, they committed two and three guys to the guy (Lillard), and so you can cut, move, space, you’re gonna get a lot of stuff,” Rivers said. “He’s (Thybulle) getting minutes there, which I think is important for him.”