Speaking at Vegas Summer League, Damian Lillard poured ice water on the burning rumors of his discontent in Rip City.
“I’m not unhappy,” Lillard told a media gathering Sunday. “I love where I live. I love the organization. I love the coaching staff. I love where I am.”
The comments are welcome to Blazers fans’ ears after Dame provided cryptic tweets following the free-agency departure of Ed Davis, paired with reports that LeBron James wanted the Lakers to acquire Lillard in a trade.
“It’s the urgency of wanting to make those steps in the right direction so that we can compete,” Lillard clarified.
The Blazers have watched James join the loaded Western Conference in LA and the all-powerful Warriors increase their strength by signing DeMarcus Cousins. Portland’s off-season moves have included drafting Anfernee Simons and acquiring Gary Trent Junior in the second round, and signing free-agent guards Nik Stauskas and Seth Curry.
Despite the conference looking stacked against Portland, Lillard said he welcomes the challenge.
“As far as where we fit (in the West), ya’ll know how I operate,” he said. “I’m going to get us in there, and that’s how it’s going to go.”
Lillard also commented on the challenge of bringing free-agents to Rip City:
“Obviously we’re not a destination,” he admitted. “It’s tough to attract players to come here. That, and us not having a lot of money to give. It’s just tough.”
Lillard also took in a WNBA game between the Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun, commenting on the pay gap between the two leagues.
.@dame_lillard on the @WNBA: “They deserve a lot more respect. They deserve to make a lot more money than they do. I think it’s time people start recognizing that they are professional athletes and they should be treated like it and their league should be elevated…” pic.twitter.com/QHgst1dSjI
— Her Hoop Stats (@herhoopstats) July 8, 2018
The Blazers are 2-0 in Summer League and face San Antonio Tuesday in the final game of the preliminary round.