Portland’s star point guard said he talked to Blazers GM Neil Olshey this offseason about building a championship roster.
PORTLAND, Ore. — With a new and improved roster, the Portland Trail Blazers are talking championship as the season nears.
But it’s not just braggadocio. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum didn’t predict a title this season. Instead, they talked about how much they want to win a championship for the city of Portland.
Lillard spoke this week about conversations he had during the offseason with Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations, about building a championship roster.
“Let’s really make a run for it. Let’s go for it,” Lillard said. “Let’s not be the organization that says, ‘Well, we made the playoffs this many years in a row. We’ve got a good coach. We’ve got this.’ Let’s put ourselves out there and try to do whatever we can do to give ourselves a real shot. Let’s try to bring that glory back to Portland. It’s been, what, (43) years? 1977 has been a long time. I want to be a part of that.”
Lillard talked about the dedication he’s shown to the team through the work he puts in during the offseason, the way he takes care of his body and the way he leads the team on and off the court.
“A lot of the steps I take in my life is so that I can come out here and be at my best and play at the highest level so that I can win a championship for this organization and this city,” he said. “And so I’ve communicated that to (Olshey), how much it means and what my desire to do that is. I think he’s doing his best.”
This offseason, Olshey’s best meant trading two first-round draft picks to add Robert Covington, a skilled 3-and-D forward, to the roster. Olshey also added depth by trading for backup center Enes Kanter, signing free agent forward Derrick Jones Jr. and signing forwards Rodney Hood and Carmelo Anthony to new contracts.
Whether that’s enough to push the Blazers into title contention remains to be seen.
Lillard’s backcourt partner, McCollum, says the team talks about playing for a championship all the time. “The city deserves it,” he said.
For now, the Blazers’ aim is to play well enough during the regular season to make the playoffs and earn a high seed. “You’ve got to give yourselves a chance,” McCollum said.
KGW’s 3-on-3 Blazers podcast team got together Thursday to talk about the Blazers’ media week interviews, the strength of the roster, initial impressions of Portland’s starting lineup and more.