Damian Lillard denies saying Warriors "due" but confident in Blazers' chances

Damian Lillard denies saying Warriors "due" but confident in Blazers' chances

SAN FRANCISCO -- Eyebrows were raised Monday morning when a quote from Damian Lillard started circulating in which the Portland Trail Blazers star supposedly told a Denver Nuggets ball boy that the Warriors were "due" to be beaten in the playoffs.

Later Monday, Lillard adamantly denied saying that during his first media availability for the Western Conference finals bout with the Dubs. 

"I didn't say that, for one," Lillard said. "He was ear hustling on a conversation that I was having with someone and I wasn't even talking about the Warriors. That's unprofessional and I was disappointed by that just because you don't try to ear hustle and then quote me as saying something that I didn't say, especially when you're standing right next to me and you could have just asked me."

Just because he didn't say that doesn't mean he has doubts his team can compete with and dethrone the Warriors.

The Blazers split the season series with the Warriors this season, and are 4-3 against the two-time defending NBA champions in the past two seasons, including Lillard's game-winning shot at Oracle Arena in December.

Needless to say, Lillard likes the Blazers' chances in their first conference finals since 2000.

"I'm really confident," Lillard said. "Like Casey said, we split the season series with them. We've won on their floor and on our floor. So, I think that shows we know we are capable of winning. We know we are capable of beating them. We just have to go out there and do it. Put it on the floor." 

The Blazers will face an uphill battle starting Tuesday night in Game 1 at Oracle Arena. 

Without Jusuf Nurkic and potentially Rodney Hood, the Blazers will have to rely heavily on Lillard and fellow backcourt star CJ McCollum to carry the load against the Warriors.

While the chips might be stacked against the Blazers, Lillard isn't scared of the Warriors, who play a similar style to Portland. 

"Yeah, I think we match up pretty well with them," Lillard said. "Our last series was against guys like Paul Millsap and (Nikola) Jokic. Huge bodies in the paint. They gave us a lot of trouble on the glass. They threw it on the block and was just a handful. We had to double-team and put ourselves out of position to rebound the ball. So, they gave us a lot of trouble with their size.

"I think with Golden State they are much more of a perimeter-oriented team. They do a lot of screening and cutting and shooting a lot of threes and stuff like that. Not really throwing the ball to the block. So, I think it's a much better matchup for us." 

Entering the playoffs, few thought the Blazers could make it out of Round 1, but Lillard blowtorched Russell Westbrook and the Thunder in Round 1. A grueling seven-game series with the Nuggets ended Sunday when McCollum dropped 37 to book a date with the Warriors.

{RELATED: Expect fireworks in Dubs-Blazers matchup in West final]

Now, Lillard, an Oakland native, gets his shot at the NBA's king.

They might be underdogs, but they've got a chance.. That's all Lillard needs.

Anthony Tolliver slots right in to what the Blazers have been doing on offense for years

Anthony Tolliver slots right in to what the Blazers have been doing on offense for years

Anthony Tolliver has been a Portland Trail Blazer before, albeit very briefly. He's now one of the oldest players on the team at age 34, and he brings shooting at the power forward position. Up until last season, Tolliver has been a pretty reasonable contributor at a low rate. So what will he offer Portland this year, and should we be afraid of his age?

That's the real question both Blazers fans and the coaching staff will try to answer early in the season. With Al-Farouq Aminu gone, the theory behind the front court rotation has changed along with all the new faces. It will help that Tolliver has been an almost exclusively 3-point shooting big man in recent memory. In fact, in the past eight seasons, Tolliver has shot 50% or more of his field goal attempts as 3-pointers. That's sort of ahead of the curve, and it's made him valuable well into his 30s.

One thing I did notice while watching tape of Tolliver — mostly from two years ago when he was better utilized in Detroit — was just how much the Pistons put him into Horns sets that are similar to what he’ll experience with the Blazers. 

Check out the full video above to see some of the sets the Pistons ran that are similar to what Portland does, and to see what else the Blazers can use from the sharpshooting forward.

NBA GMs Survey: Where Damian Lillard ranks among best leaders in the league

NBA GMs Survey: Where Damian Lillard ranks among best leaders in the league

General managers around the league have voiced their opinions on the upcoming NBA season.

In the 18th annual NBA.com GM Survey, the GMs responded to 50 different questions in regards to the best teams, players, coaches, fans, and offseason moves.

VOTES ARE IN FOR BEST TEAM LEADERS:

The floor general is often the teams’ leader, but for Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard his leadership goes far beyond running the team on the court.

Talk with anyone in the Blazers organization or close to the team, Lillard is a type of captain who leads by example, and who has earned the respect of his teammates from the top of the roster to the bottom.

[RELATED]: More than just his Mother: Damian Lillard’s leadership rooted in deep influence from his family

GMs have noticed Lillard’s leadership qualities and they are speaking out about it.

Lillard received the most votes for best leader with a whopping 41 percent, ahead of Stephen Curry (37 percent) and LeBron James (15 percent).

And, what a difference a year makes.

Last year, Lillard received 7 percent of the votes to LeBron James’ 30 percent.

More on the Blazers in the GM surveys:

NBA GMs Survey: Where Damian Lillard ranks among point guards

NBA GMs Survey: Where Moda Center ranks among best home-court advantage

NBA GMs Survey: Where Damian Lillard ranks among others when the game is on the line

NBA GMs Survey: Where Coach Stotts ranks among coaches running best offense

NBA GMs Survey: Where Coach Stotts ranks among coaches running best offense

NBA GMs Survey: Where Coach Stotts ranks among coaches running best offense

General managers around the league have voiced their opinions on the upcoming NBA season.

In the 18th annual NBA.com GM Survey, the GMs responded to 50 different questions in regards to the best teams, players, coaches, fans, and offseason moves.

VOTES ARE IN FOR WHICH HEAD COACH RUNS THE BEST OFFENSE:

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts has always been looked at as a great offensive mind of every coaching staff he has been on over the years.  

Learning from his early days with the Seattle SuperSonics under head coach George Karl to his days in Dallas with coach Rick Carlisle, Stotts gets the best offense out of his team.

[RELATED]: Terry Stotts has ditched the whiteboard in favor of an iPad

Whether it’s an out of bounds play or the way the Blazers run their motion offense, Stotts is being recognized by general managers around the league as a great offensive coach.

Stotts comes in tied for second place on the list with 14 percent of the votes. Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer and Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni also received 14 percent of the votes behind Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.

Stotts is 352-249 in his seven seasons at the helm in Portland.

More on the Blazers in the GM surveys:

NBA GMs Survey: Where Damian Lillard ranks among point guards

NBA GMs Survey: Where Moda Center ranks among best home-court advantage

NBA GMs Survey: Where Damian Lillard ranks among others when the game is on the line

Check back here later for more GM analysis on the Blazers.

Jannero Pargo's perspective: The coach every player can relate to

Jannero Pargo's perspective: The coach every player can relate to

Trail Blazers practice had just wrapped up for the day.

In the far left corner of the gym stood a smiling Jaylen Hoard after he just finished draining a three-pointer from the right wing.

Before Hoard could do a victory dance, Portland’s assistant coach Jannero Pargo was seen on the floor… Doing push-ups. 

“There was a bet, and unfortunately I lost. I want to keep these guys confident. I don’t want to take too much from them,” Pargo said with a smile.

That sense of humor isn’t the only thing that has helped Pargo land his first NBA coaching job.

The newest addition to Portland’s coaching staff is giving the Blazers a fresh perspective.

When Portland lost assistant David Vanterpool to the Minnesota Timberwolves to be their associate head coach, Pargo was brought in two weeks later.

Vatnerpool was known as a players’ coach. He also had a very well known, special bond with Blazers guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

BIG SHOES TO FILL

Filling DV’s role was no easy task.

Pargo’s ‘reliability’ though has become a building block in how he has transitioned so well into his first NBA assistant role.

Lillard compared Pargo to a former Trail Blazer guard who was also a coaching intern for the Blazers in 2017.    

“I think [Pargo] brings something different then what we’ve had in a long time,” Lillard said. “It’s kind of like what we had in Steve Blake, but Steve Blake wasn’t in the same position that he’s in… In the way that he’s like a veteran NBA point guard. So, he’s sharing things with us as guards and with the team that you’re hearing from an NBA player.”

“Just different parts of the game that you’ve just got to be an NBA player to understand,” Lillard added. “Like some things happen in practice where the coaches will break it down to us one way when we make a mistake, and with him he’s like ‘I know sometimes your man is over here and it’s hard to get to get to this spot, but,’ so he’s telling us from a perspective that we’ll understand a little bit more and be a little bit more receptive to him because he’s coming from our position.”

Blazer rookie Nassir Little echoed Lillard’s sentiment.

“What I like about him is he brings a lot of reliability,” Little said of Pargo. “He’s a guy that is still able to come out here and play like he’s a 20-year-old, which is really crazy. With him, he understands the game from a player’s perspective and that allows him to give us some good insight that we can put into our games immediately to help us right away.”

Just two years removed from his NBA playing days, Pargo realizes how crucial his 11 years of experience in the league is currently helping him be a better coach.

“A lot of players look at guys like, you know, they’re trying to tell them what to do,” Pargo said. “And… The first thing they’re thinking in their head is -- ‘where did you play at?’ For me, I can say I played 11 years in this league, and you know, I was able to do some things. So, when I say something they respect it and they kind of take it to heart and that’s a good thing to have.”

Lillard even went as far to say Pargo has similar qualities to Vanterpool.

“It’s energy, it’s fresh. It’s kind of like how DV was for us…. A mixture of Steve Blake and DV. It’s that type of impact for us,” Lillard said.

HIGHLY REGARDED

After being in Portland for just a few months, Pargo has made a big impact on the players as well as Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.

“He came recommended,” Stotts said. “Unsolicited recommendations, from coaches [and] GMs in the league and when I hired him, a couple of other coaches out of the blue texted me and said he’s one of their favorites. So, I was very happy with the hire.”

Stotts knew how important it was to fill Vanterpool’s role, saying that Pargo, “played for a lot of different coaches, a lot of different systems. He’s seen it all… When we lost David, he kind of had that perspective and so we wanted to replace that.”

Not only was it Pargo’s experience in the league that caught Stotts’ attention, but it was also Pargo’s time spent coaching in the G-League that was also significant to Stotts.  

“[We] didn’t really have a connection with him other than, I mean, I had never met him, obviously… But the fact that he spent two years in the G-League meant a lot to me. Every coach on our staff has spent time in the minor leagues and that’s important,” Stotts said.

Pargo took a lot away from his two years on the coaching staff for the Windy City Bulls.

“It was a great experience. It helped prepare me for this journey right here. Just learning and getting better as a coach, trying to think more like a coach than a player,” Pargo said.

HE’S STILL GOT IT

Over the summer, Pargo was at the Blazers practice facility working with the young Blazer squad.

Little appreciates that Pargo is still able to get out on the court and ball.

“In the summer we used to play one-on-one, and all that type of stuff. He’s super quick. That helps guys like me with our lateral quickness on defense and stuff like that. It allows me to be a better player,” Little said.    

It’s apparent by watching Pargo shooting jumpers after Blazer practices that he can still play, but he knows he can’t ball every day.

“A lot of guys have been giving me a lot of flack, because I think I can still play,” Pargo said with a big smile.

The 39-year-old then joked, “I can play one day, but how I feel the next day is the problem.”

Lillard knew that Pargo could still hoop the first time he saw him on the court.

“The first day I came back in September he was giving them fits. I mean, he can still play,” Lillard said.

AN ALL-AROUND COACH

Just because Pargo played point guard, doesn’t mean he isn’t here to share his words of wisdom to every single player on the roster.

“Every guard thinks he’s a big man,” Pargo said. “We all wish we were 6’11''. So we kind of have post moves and stuff like that. I just try to teach the bigs stuff from a guard's point of view to give these guys a little edge when they may have a small on them.”

Overall, Pargo wants to bring a player-coach opinion, which has already earned him respect from the team.

“Just be a voice to the team. They get tired of hearing Terry so much,” Pargo said with a chuckle. “You’ve got to have guys who can rely the message, just with a different voice.”

It’s probably safe to say that just as the Blazers themselves welcomed Pargo with open arms to the coaching staff, Blazer fans would too welcome anyone who has been compared to Steve Blake and David Vanterpool.

The inside story of Dame D.O.L.L.A.'s “Money Ball” music video -- in his own words

The inside story of Dame D.O.L.L.A.'s “Money Ball” music video -- in his own words

Damian Lillard’s – aka “Dame D.O.L.L.A. -- “Money Ball” on his latest album has brought him a lot of attention and is apparently getting a lot of streams. And the music video, released Thursday, will take it up another notch.

“Money Ball” is much more of a conventional rap song than most of Lillard’s previous work and the video reaches, for the squeaky clean Lillard, the “edgy” level.

He admits that and explains the reasoning behind the song and the video, which depicts Lillard (and backcourt mate CJ McCollum in a cameo) throwing dollar bills around. There’s also a stripper pole and scenes from a club and you may even hear a word or two that you haven’t heard in his songs previously.

It’s another genre and perhaps a risk for him.

But listen to him tell the story.

Countdown to Tip-Off: Blazers grab lucky number 13 against the Spurs

screen_shot_2019-10-18_at_12.14.17_pm.png
NBCSNW

Countdown to Tip-Off: Blazers grab lucky number 13 against the Spurs

We're counting down the days until the Portland Trail Blazers open up the 2019-2020 NBA season by looking back at each of the victories in the 18-game home-opener win streak. Here is a look at what happened back in 2013 when the Portland Trail Blazers faced the San Antonio Spurs in the home-opener.

Can’t remember what the NBA was like in 2013? Let’s paint the picture:

  • LeBron James was the reigning MVP,
  • Carmelo Anthony was the league's leading scorer
  • The Miami Heat were the defending champions
  • Damian Lillard had just won Rookie of the Year
  • Anthony Bennett was the No.1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
  • The Blazers had the No.10 pick and drafted CJ McCollum.
  • The New Orleans Hornets officially became the New Orleans Pelicans 
  • The Charlotte Bobcats officially announced intent to change back to the Charlotte Hornets.
  • The Rose Garden changed its name to the Moda Center 

 

As for the Blazers home opener...

The Blazers opened up their home schedule of the 2013 season by welcoming the San Antonio Spurs. The game was close from start to finish, but Portland still controlled most of the way. Portland led for 42:42 of the game, taking the 12-10 lead with 5:43 left in the first quarter and never trailing again. Thanks in large part to a Nic Batum triple-double, the Blazers pulled off the 115-105 victory. 

Notable stats: 

San Antonio -

Tim Duncan – 24 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist

Tony Parker– 17 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assist

Manu Ginobili– 11points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists

Kawhi Leonard - 9 points, 2 steals, 1 rebound, 1 assist

Portland –

LaMarcus Aldridge – 24 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists

Damian Lillard – 27 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists

Nic Batum– 11 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists

Wesley Matthews– 20 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists

The Blazers would finish the season 54-28, good for the fifth-best record in the Western Conference and a trip to the postseason for the first time since 2011. Portland would face Houston in the first round of the playoffs, and thanks to Damian Lillard's now famous 0.9 shot would advance to the second round for the first time since 2000. The Spurs would eliminate the Blazers 4-1 and go on to win the championship. 

NBA GMs Survey: Where Damian Lillard ranks among others when the game is on the line

NBA GMs Survey: Where Damian Lillard ranks among others when the game is on the line

General managers around the league have voiced their opinions on the upcoming NBA season.

In the 18th annual NBA.com GM Survey, the GMs responded to 50 different questions in regards to the best teams, players, coaches, fans, and offseason moves.

VOTES ARE IN FOR WHO GMs WANT TAKING THE GAME WINNER:

The 0.9 shot.

The ‘bad’ shot.

Those are just two examples that everyone always thinks about when it comes to Damian Lillard and his game winners.

#LillardTime has been around for seasons now, and to put it simply, that means Damian Lillard is Mr. Clutch.

The GMs have recognized just that…

Lillard is tied for second on the list of top clutch players. He’s tied with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson as the guy you want taking the shot when the game is on the line. Those three are behind Stephen Curry, but ahead of Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard.

More on the Blazers in the GM surveys:

NBA GMs Survey: Where Damian Lillard ranks among point guards

NBA GMs Survey: Where Moda Center ranks among best home-court advantage

Check back here later for more GM analysis on the Blazers.

Trail Blazers roster set at 14 after training camp cuts

usatsi_13528861.jpg
USA Today Images

Trail Blazers roster set at 14 after training camp cuts

The Trail Blazers have waived Keljin Blevins, Troy Caupain, and London Perrantes, the team announced Friday. 

Blevins, Caupain, and Perrantes were singed to training camp deals in September, and all three players saw action for the Blazers during the preseason:

Blevins: Played in four preseason games, averaging 4.3 points, 0.8 rebounds, and 0.3 assists.

Caupain: Played in five preseason games, averaging 3.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists

Perrantes: Played in five preseason games, averaging 0.8 points, 0.2 rebounds, and 2.0 assists.

Moses Brown was also signed prior to the preseason, and the Blazers announced on Friday that they have converted Brown's deal to a two-way contract. 

With the latest round of moves the Blazers roster now sits at 14 players, with one open roster spot and two two-way contracted players:

Moses, Brown 7'1" Center (Two-Way Contract)

Jaylen Hoard, 6'9" Small Forward (Two-Way Contract)

Nassir Little, 6'7" Small Forward (Rookie)

Hassan Whiteside, 7'1" Center

Zach Collins, 7'0'' Center 

Jusuf Nurkic, 7'0'' Forward/Center

Pau Gasol, 7'0" Center/Power Forward

Skal Labissiere, 6'11" Power Forward

Mario Hezonja, 6'8" Small Forward

Rodney Hood, 6'8" Shooting Guard

Anthony Tolliver, 6'8" Forward

Gary Trent, Jr.,  6'6'' Shooting Guard

Kent Bazemore, 6'5" Small Forward/Shooting Guard

Anfernee Simons, 6'4'' Shooting Guard 

Damian Lillard, 6'3'' Point Guard 

C.J. McCollum, 6'3'' Shooting Guard/Point Guard

 

 

 

NBA GMs Survey: Where Moda Center ranks among best home-court advantage

NBA GMs Survey: Where Moda Center ranks among best home-court advantage

General managers around the league have voiced their opinions on the upcoming NBA season.

In the 18th annual NBA.com GM Survey, the GMs responded to 50 different questions in regards to the best teams, players, coaches, fans, and offseason moves.

VOTES ARE IN FOR WHO HAS THE BEST HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE:

Opposing players often talk about how difficult it is to play in Portland with the Moda Center crowd backing its team.

According to the GMs around the association, Portland is the fourth most difficult place to play.

Denver comes in at number one.

For anyone who has attended a game at the Pepsi Center in Denver, you know it is not the crowd that makes Denver a difficult place to play, but rather the altitude and teams being able to adjust to it quickly.

More on the Blazers in the GM surveys:

NBA GMs Survey: Where Damian Lillard ranks among point guards

Check back here later for more GM analysis on the Blazers.