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Damian Lillard on playing on big-market super team: ‘I don’t feel in my heart that that’s who I am or where I belong’

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard in Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 31: LeBron James #23 and Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers play defense against Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers on January 31, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Damian Lillard spent the summer flirting with the idea of leaving the Trail Blazers.

At one point, he met with Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
the Lakers were already privately evaluating their options on potentially landing Lillard, sources said.

Lillard did not categorize the meeting as a platform for a recruiting presentation, but rather an information-gathering forum among respected peers.

“’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.”

“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.

Without trading LeBron or Davis, the Lakers had no feasible way of acquiring Lillard. Los Angeles already depleted its assets to get Davis.

But if Lillard wanted to demand a trade to a different destination franchise, he could have. He didn’t.

Still, Lillard’s recommitment to Portland has been treated as potentially temporary, a willingness to give new Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups a chance then reevaluate next offseason.

This sounds deeper, though. “I don’t feel in my heart that that’s who I am or where I belong” are strong words, words that get to the core of Lillard’s value system. That’s especially true because they match years of Lillard sounding this way.

Though he could always explore his options again, the more Lillard talks, the more-permanent his commitment to Portland sounds.