NBA (DR) / Basketball Forever (DR)
Damian Lillard almost landed at the Lakers a year ago, the Angelinos doing everything to try to acquire his services. LeBron James himself had even done his seduction operation with the Portland star, who also returned to the subject during a long interview recently.
Under contract with the Blazers for another five seasons, Damian Lillard is on track to make his entire career in Oregon. Not only because he will receive a salary that makes it very difficult to transfer ($258 million in all!), but also because the leader has been extremely loyal to his people since his draft in 2012. And this while he is regularly courted by the competition, like the Lakers who worked hard to get it in 2021.
At the time, the Pourpres et Ors were still looking for a third thief to complete the Big Three with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Before deciding to Russell Westbrook, it is the number 0 that seemed to be the main target of the Californian franchise. As Dame DOLLA recently confided to The Ringer, the local stars have also pulled out all the stops to convince him to join them. The King even invited him to his home:
Lillard invited to LeBron to talk about Lakers reunion
He said to me, “go home” and since I had nothing planned for the next day, I told myself that I could go and have a look. We discussed the possibilities for my arrival. LeBron asked me how things were going for me and I said, “I really don’t know what we’re doing with the Blazers.” It was that kind of discussion. I didn’t even see it as a recruitment process.
All the time I was chatting with them, I was like, “I play for the Blazers. The only thing I decided to do was to give this association a chance. I didn’t tackle anyone, there were no threats to my team. I was just being honest. When I am asked a question, I answer the question. Because these questions had never been asked before.
With his shooting qualities, Lillard would indeed have been an ideal partner to play in attack with LBJ, probably much more than the Brodie whose first year in the City of Angels was catastrophic. Only here, as mentioned above, the former Weber State is very attached to his squad and only wants to win for them, who end up without a single career ring. This is also why he ended up declining the offer:
Of course I thought about it. Like, “What would happen if that happened?” And if I went there? I thought about it. At that time, I was thinking a lot of things. I told myself that if I had to consider a situation other than mine, I was going to look at one where I know that I will have a great chance of winning. But ultimately I wanted to win as a Blazer. I want to win a title here. I don’t think I would feel the same joy if I won one elsewhere. I would be happy, no doubt about it, because you experience victory, but I know how I want to win it.
In the end, it didn’t play out much for Damian Lillard to leave his Blazers for the Lakers. But the point guard’s loyalty to the Oregon franchise trumped everything else, and LeBron James walked away empty-handed.