Damian Lillard is trying to 'keep that edge' during NBA hiatus

Damian Lillard is trying to 'keep that edge' during NBA hiatus

There really was no way to fully prepare for such sheltering place protocols ahead of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

This unprecedented time in the world still feels very surreal at times.

For the Trail Blazers leader Damian Lillard, he is working on keeping sharp and focused during the NBA suspension.

I’ve been running in the morning. I’ve been getting lifts in. I’ve been doing as much core as you can possibly do. I’ve been in the steam room. Talking to other guys around the league, talking to my teammates… Talking to my coaches, just trying to stay connected. Trying to stay connected to that environment and to people who share that space with me, and I think that’s the best way to at least keep that edge because it’s kind of starting to feel like postseason, like the season is over. So, we’ll see.  -- Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard

Lillard has not been tested for COVID-19, but says he is following public health officials protocols and self-isolating, along with the NBA’s guidelines during this time and is not exhibiting any symptoms.

“I haven’t been able to get into the training facility," Lillard said. "At the moment, they don’t want us in the practice facility. They don’t want us training with any of our coaches or anything like that. They also don’t want us training at a third-party gym or with a third-party trainer, so it’s basically like if you don’t have a gym at home, you can’t train. So fortunately for me, I have a gym at home, so I’ve been able to kind of continue and get work done."

The only players allowed to enter the Trail Blazers practice facility at the moment are the players who are still rehabbing from injuries, including Zach Collins, Jusuf Nurkic and Rodney Hood.

Lillard has thought about the players around the league who aren’t able to continue to train and workout in a home gym.

“People who don’t have that and at some point are going to be expected to come back as a professional athlete and perform on call, that makes it tough,” Lillard added.

“When we do come back, everybody is gonna have a little bit of rust to shake off.”

But, don’t think for a second that Lillard hasn’t been keeping busy when he’s not training in his home gym.

The eight-year vet, has been taking this time to connect with people and share memorable moments with his son, Dame Jr.

“We watching Mickey Mouse together and then we playing, and I’m teaching him stuff. I get to be more hands on with him and it’s constant. I really appreciate it,” Lillard said.

“I appreciate the stillness… Being home all day and I’m not missing anything,” Lillard added.

As the Trail Blazers point guard reflects, while enjoying the time at home with his family, he his optimistic that the season will restart and is in favor of some type of play-in tournament for the playoffs.  

And now… We wait for the decision on the season.

But more than anything, Lillard wants “for everybody” to be murmuring this statement once 2019-20 postseason play begins, and the Blazers have made it to the playoffs for the seventh straight year:

“How did they still end up here? Like how? How did that happen?”

Here’s to hoping we all get that chance to hear from those perplexed NBA fans.  

Where do Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum rank on Forbes list of highest paid athletes

Where do Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum rank on Forbes list of highest paid athletes

Forbes list highest-paid athlete is not Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum.

It is actually Roger Federer, which the magazine says is $106.3 million in total earnings.

For a tennis player, Federer seems to be doing just fine bring in the money.

Our Portland Trail Blazers superstars both made the cut in the top 100 of this list.

CJ McCollum made the list at No. 84 at $23.8 million, making most of his profits with his three-year, $100 million extension in 2019 that will kick off in the 2021-22 season, as well as his endorsement deal with Chinese sneaker brand Li Ning, that he signed back in 2017.

Damian Lillard comes in at No. 30 at $37 million, with most of his profits coming from his recently signed four-year, $196 million supertax contract extension and his Adidas signature shoe line, which is among the company’s top NBA sellers.

Lillard roughly makes about $14.5 million a year from endorsements alone.

Overall, Lillard and McCollum are with 34 other NBA players in this top 100 list.

Notable NBA players on this list include: Giannis Antetokounmpo at No. 18 ($47.6); James Harden at No. 17 ($47.8); and Russell Westbrook at No. 12 ($56).

There are just three NBA players that just made the 10 list. LeBron James lands fifth at $88.2 million, of which $37.4 million in salary. Stephen Curry is sixth at $74.4 million, and Kevin Durant is seventh at $69.3 million.

Now, most of the time, these Forbes lists have a reputation for being just a little off the mark.

With that said, it is still something to talk about and debate about during these times.

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri. 

Ever Wonder why the Trail Blazers logo looks the way it does?

Ever Wonder why the Trail Blazers logo looks the way it does?

Editor’s Note: This is the final article of a three-part series, as we explore more about the Trail Blazers logo with the Blazers Brand Team including, Director of Brand and Retail Marketing Todd Adams, Vice President of Brand Strategy Ryan Flaherty, and Trail Blazers Art Director Mario Milosevic.

This is a piece of history we can get behind.

Over the years, Portland Trail Blazers players fans have worn the Trail Blazers’ pinwheel logo with pride whether the logo was red and black or red and white, slanted, or straight up and down.

But, have you ever wondered why the Trail Blazers logo looks the way it does?

The logo actually runs in the family… to a certain extent. 

Harry Glickman, one of the founders of the Portland Trail Blazers, who was also the team's president from 1987 to 1994, looked to his cousin, Frank, for help in creating the Trail Blazers timeless pinwheel logo.

The graphic interpretation represents two five-on-five basketball teams coming together at center court to square off against each other.

It's a symbol of the Portland Trail Blazers and their opponent.

That’s something no other NBA team can say.

Portland Trail Blazers current Art Director Mario Milosevic, who has been with the Blazers since 2005, was the one to revamp the latest Blazers logo in 2017. He knows how important the logo is to the overall look and feel of the team and is always mindful of that in any redesigns.

The original logo is so iconic that it is really hard to change it, like some other teams who have updated their logos and they would have a drastic change. For us, when we did the last re-brand, we had focus groups where we wanted to learn more about what our fans thought of the logos, about the current logo. And, we learned that nobody wanted us to change the logo. So, that’s what we did. We basically didn’t change it much. We just updated, made it a little more modern and it still has that original shape that everybody is familiar with. -- Trail Blazers Art Director Mario Milosevic

The Trail Blazers have had six different logos over their 50-year history, but the main concept of the pinwheel hasn’t changed over years.

The original logo designed by Frank Glickman was the cornerstone of the franchise from 1970 to 1990.

In 1990, the Trail Blazers went with a more dominant and clean look by placing “Blazers” to the right of the pinwheel in large, bold letters.

Plus, to honor the tradition of the 1990’s design, the Blazers reversed the color scheme of the logo to feature the red on top.

The team kept this logo until 2002. Between 2002 and 2004, the Trail Blazers changed their logo two different times.

But now, in the most recent redesign, the revamped logo, which was revealed in May of 2017, returned to the franchise's primary color scheme of white, black and red.

Each of the lines follow the same path to the center of the pinwheel, but are now connected for an added symbol of teamwork.

How did the connected lines that have now been established to represent teamwork come about?

That goes back to the focus groups. 

The Trail Blazers did a study with about 50 photos and nearly thirty to forty people were asked to pick the one photo “that they felt represented the Trail Blazers to them.”

On the table laid pictures of:

  • Bill Walton
  • The Pinwheel logos
  • Team huddles
  • Brandon Roy
  • Damian Lillard

And that's just to name a few of the photos. 

Ryan Flaherty, Vice President of Brand Strategy for the Trail Blazers, explained how the process of his particular focus group ultimately helped decide the teamwork rebrand of the pinwheel.

“Like 99 percent of the people specifically all picked the same exact photo out of all those photos -- they picked the same one, which was a team huddle shot that you couldn’t even tell any of the players on the team.” Flaherty said. “So, when we asked them why, obviously -- it was all about this city and this region and our fans really look at teamwork and team play as being the most important and never individual performance or individual heroes. They really think it makes a team to be successful.”

An elderly woman participating in the focus groups even used some colorful language when she initially thought the Blazers were changing the pinwheel logo.

“She wanted to make it clear that we should not change it,” Flaherty said with a smile.

What the Trail Blazers organization has truly learned over the years is that fans are never looking for the Blazers to shy away from the original pinwheel look. 

“We are careful when we tweak that logo, that we keep it in the same family. We have a good family of those pinwheels… Just modernize it to keep it current,” Trail Blazers Director of Brand and Retail Marketing Todd Adams added.

The pinwheel is a unique NBA logo.

Portland is a unique NBA city.

It’s a perfect match.

I think our logo is so unique compared to every other sports teams’ logo that typically features a mascot or an animal or some type of representation of the city, ours was a little bit part psychedelic 70s, artistic interpretation of the… five-on-five of two teams coming together at center court for competition. -- Trail Blazers Vice President of Brand Strategy Ryan Flaherty 

Another interesting note about the most recent redesign is that the angles of the lines on the pinwheel are exactly 45 degrees. According to the team's website, this shift in design is to represent "the 45th Parallel North that leads on a path to the Northwest region."

And you thought the pinwheel just looked cool, didn’t you? 

To learn more about your hometown team's look and design, check out the video at the top of the article.

A group-play scenario for NBA playoffs may prove to be a non-starter

A group-play scenario for NBA playoffs may prove to be a non-starter

The NBA is apparently mulling two options to kick off its postseason July 31 in Orlando, where the Magic Kingdom will turn into the Magic Bubble, as teams gather to find a resolution to the 2020 season.

The options being explored seem to be a World-Cup style group stage, where several teams play a round-robin in one of several pools before the best two or three in each pool advance to a playoff bracket. Or a simple play-in tournament, where borderline teams -- likely just in the Western Conference --  try to steal the eighth seed from Memphis.

I believe the play-in tournament is the most likely scenario -- it seems to be the option that is fair to the most teams and also the format most likely to get the most votes from league governors.

I believe the idea of pool play, or any other scheme that includes teams that are firmly entrenched among the top eight teams in each conference, is not going to get enough votes to pass.

And it appears in this NBA, while Commissioner Adam Silver has power, he doesn’t have David Stern-like power, where he can simply ramrod whatever proposal he wishes down the throats of the owners.

I just don’t think upper-echelon teams will vote to be thrown into a pool with teams such as New Orleans and Portland that could knock them out of the postseason before it even gets to a bracket.

And it’s not fair.

I don’t believe teams such as Denver, Boston, Toronto, the Clippers and the Jazz, which have had solid seasons and earned the right to enjoy a first-round playoff matchup against a lower-seeded team, should have to jeopardize their season in a pool where one bad game might eliminate them.

For the NBA, any sort of play-in should involve the teams in the Western Conference -- the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Spurs and Kings -- that were breathing down the neck of eighth-seeded Memphis.

I do not believe the Grizzlies, given their schedule and the way they had been playing, were going to be able to hold onto that seed.

Just let 20 teams play four or five games in Orlando to get ready for the postseason, then throw Nos. 9-12 in the West into a sudden-death tourney -- win or go home -- for the right to meet Memphis in a best-of-three series for that eighth spot.

Fair to all concerned, with a nod to the Grizzlies for holding the eighth seed. And those win-or-go-home games will be must-see television.

It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if some form of tournament will be set up that puts not one but two of the 16 playoff berths up for grabs.

That would give the league’s new darlings, New Orleans and Zion Williamson, not only two chances to make the field but an opportunity to escape a first-round matchup with the league’s other ratings monster, LeBron and the Lakers. This from ESPN's Brian Windhorst:

"One of the things I've been hearing as I've talked to people in the league is, the league is gonna set up this playoff plan to make sure Zion Williamson is involved. ... Paranoia is at the top of the list with anything in the NBA. ... They're always paranoid about everything—'the league is screwing me, and they're helping that guy.' In this case, there's a number of different reasons why the league would want to have 20 or 24 teams, a number of different reasons to get extra games. But most of those scenarios include making sure, having Zion Williamson in the postseason."

And if you think that’s not a factor, you haven’t studied this league very long, The NBA will manipulate matchups, schedules and maybe even games to get what it wants. Don't believe me... well, all I'm going to say is that if you want to defeat New Orleans in a play-in tournament, you better have a pretty big lead going into the fourth quarter.

Certainly, the Trail Blazers should be locked into whatever format is used, simply because they have a one-percentage-point lead over New Orleans. If the Pelicans are in -- and they will be -- Portland has to be there, too.

Whatever happens, the hype machine is going to be running at full speed because the NBA has suffered through a season of ratings declines and this is a chance to salvage something better.

And don’t overlook the fact that the Trail Blazers, with Jusuf Nurkic and Zack Collins presumably healthy, have a great chance to be a much better team than their seeding would be and thus a Cinderella team in the postseason.

We should know the format of this thing next week.

NBA playoffs could look drastically different once play resumes

NBA playoffs could look drastically different once play resumes

It appears that the return of the NBA is just around the corner, with the league planning to hold a Board of Governors meeting on Thursday to decide if the teams want to move forward with Adam Silver's plan to restart the season. 

However, it's unclear what the return to play could look like. Could the league return and play the full regular season? Will they play a cut-down regular season, then advance to the playoffs? Will the just nix the regular season altogether and go straight to the playoffs? All options are on the table. 

In a recent survey of GM's, 53% said they would prefer to advance directly to playoffs, while 27% would prefer to resume with a shortened regular season. 

There has also been talks about reseeding 1-16 regardless of conference, instead of 1-8 in the East and West. According to that same survey, 53% of GMs are in favor of keeping the normal format, while the other 47% prefer reseeding. 

Ramona Shelbourne and Kevin O'Connor have reported similar scenarios where we could see all teams within six-games of a playoff spot playing a regular-season slate and a play-in tournament for the final playoff spots.

NBC Sports national basketball reporter Tom Haberstroh has his own unique idea. 

Reseed teams 1-through-16 (or 20 or 24) and let the higher-seeded teams (Nos. 1 through 8) choose their opponents in every round. The No. 1 seed would choose its opponent from a pool of the bottom half of the playoff field (eight teams in a 16-team playoff or 10 if the league decides to expand to 20 teams). The No. 2 seed would choose from the remaining teams and so on. You could broadcast the selections -- call it Selection Saturday if the NCAA doesn’t have rights to that as well -- in real-time, just like the NBA did for the All-Star draft. - Tom Haberstroh 

[READ MORE: NBA playoffs need a draft and here's how it would look]

None of these ideas are bad, but I do think I solved the problem already. 

I propose the NBA hold two unique playoff brackets when they do return - One for top 16 teams, one for the bottom 14.

The teams seeded 1-16 will battle it out in a normal, best-of-seven playoff format, with the winner to be crowned NBA Champions as usual. 

However, the unique twist is in the teams seeded 17-30. The bottom 14 teams, rather than pack it up and go on vacation, will battle it out in a tournament of their own - A tournament to decide draft order. 

No more lottery. No more luck. You have to earn the top spot. Win the bottom 14 tournament, earn the No.1 overall pick. 

Oh, there is a twist...

Teams right on the buddle of making the playoffs, such as the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, and Spurs have a choice. They can either remain in the bottom 14 and start there march to the No.1 pick, or they can risk it all in a single-elimination, sudden death style play-in for a chance at earning the eighth and final playoff spot. 

To me, this adds intrigue. Bubble teams can decide if they want to go after a title or a better pick. It would also mean teams that were out of the playoff picture now have meaningful games to play. 

Teams like the Warriors would get to see more action, instead of packing it up. Even better, large media markets like Atlanta, Chicago, and New York would have meaningful basketball to watch. 

Of course, you may run into a situation where star players don't want to play in a tournament where a championship isn't the prize. But that might not be a bad thing. 

Say Portland plays for the No.1 pick, but Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum choose not to participate in the tournament. There is still a ton of intrigue in seeing if Anfernee Simons, Gary Trent Jr, and Wenyen Gabrial can put on a show to win this tourney!  Young players entering about to enter free-agency, or players on two-way contracts would get a giant stage to shine on.

Just look at what incredible March Madness runs have done for certain player's draft stocks. A tournament for the bottom 14 could do the same for a player looking for his next deal.

Most important, It would just be fun to watch meaningful basketball, would it not?

My idea has its flaws. No idea is perfect,  but no idea is bad at this point.

As I said earlier, everything is on the table. All ideas should be considered so that when the NBA does return, we get the best basketball in the world and as much of it as we can.

What will the final product look like? We should know soon enough, 

 

Michael Jordan doesn't want to play meaningless games, either...

Michael Jordan doesn't want to play meaningless games, either...

Earlier this week, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard told Yahoo! Sports that he wouldn't play again this season unless Portland had a real opportunity to qualify for the postseason.

[RELATED]: Damian Lillard is sending a message to the NBA -- give us a shot at playoffs

Lillard's not alone as the GOAT agrees with him. Why endanger the safety of the player for meaningless games? 

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, Michael Jordan, now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, spoke up at a meeting between the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the league's Board of Governors stating that he doesn't want teams to come back that do not have an opportunity to make the postseason in the name of player safety. 

Jordan's comments come a day after ESPN's Dan Orlovsky called Lillard a "spoiled and entitled brat" on ESPN's Get Up for Lillard stating he doesn't want to play if the Blazers can't qualify for the postseason. 

Dame quickly fired back at the former NFL quarterback and social media largely took Lillard's side on the issue. 

[RELATED]: Damian Lillard's character was challenged-- that was a big mistake

Orlovsky later apologized via Twitter for his remarks. 

Now, Michael Jordan himself has agreed with Lillard's comments. Michael Jordan: the player whose competitiveness has achieved mythical status. If he doesn't see the point in playing "meaningless" games then I'm sure Lillard's sentiment is more spread throughout the league than has been reported.  

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.

Ever Wonder why there's a sash on the Trail Blazers uniforms?

Ever Wonder why there's a sash on the Trail Blazers uniforms?

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a three-part series, as we explore more about the Portland Trail Blazers' jersey designs, with the Trail Blazers Brand Team including, Director of Brand and Retail Marketing Todd Adams, Vice President of Brand Strategy Ryan Flaherty, and Trail Blazers Art Director Mario Milosevic.

Clean lines and a sash combination of red, black, white, or sometimes even silver has been a mainstay in the team’s uniform designs.

Those stripes on the jersey are unique to Portland. 

Whether the look is called the sash or stripes, it’s not just Trail Blazers fans that recognize these striped uniforms as Portland’s.

That sash across the chest has been around since nearly the beginning of the Trail Blazers franchise.

KEEPING IT TRADITIONAL

As Trail Blazers Director of Brand and Retail Marketing Todd Adams explained, the stripes across the uniforms was an original design in the 1970s. The team has since made it a point to “stay rooted in those original designs.”  

I think the 70s was a wild time for uniforms design. If you look up the cool things -- the Denver Nuggets introduced the rainbow design, the Atlanta Hawks and the Pacers had these cool curvy racing stripes that went across the chest… I think somewhere along the way a designer decided, ‘hey let’s tilt this across the chest and make it a sash’...  Where some teams might… modernize or try to stay with the times… We just stay rooted in those original designs.” -- Trail Blazers Director of Brand and Retail Marketing Todd Adams 

Three expansion teams entered the NBA in 1970, the Portland Trail Blazers being one of them along with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Buffalo Braves who are now the Los Angeles Clippers.

Think about the various looks across the league for a moment and the various looks over the years.

Are there specific teams that come to mind that always seem to stick to a traditional look?

Boston, perhaps?

Or, what about Indiana?

Portland should be in that same classification.

“We’re a little bit more of a traditional looking team,” said Vice President of Brand Strategy Ryan Flaherty. “There’s always Boston out there, that’s gonna be the most traditional, but I think I would put us in that category more than someone whose trying to just be trend-setting.”

The Trail Blazers organization not only wants to achieve the unique sash look to being rooted in rich tradition, but also to pay homage to the city of Portland.

We always use the term ‘retro-modern’ which I know contradicts itself… If you look around Portland, specifically, any type of design whether it’s a restaurant, or a brewery, or an art gallery, or any type of business, most of the ones that are popular have this little retro vibe to it, but reinvented, something modern for this area. It just is a look that’s really common and, I guess, adopted in the Portland area. -- Trail Blazers President of Brand Strategy Ryan Flaherty

And, what about calling it a sash? Is that okay?

"Yes," however, “it has been referred to as a ‘Blaze’ across the front of the uniforms,” according to Flaherty.

THIS LOOK BELONGS TO PORTLAND  

No matter how the stripes down the chest are described, two things are certain:

  • Trail Blazers fans want the sash to stay forever
  • NBA fans recognize the stripes as belonging to the Trail Blazers

“We use focus groups with fans because when we were not only asking about our logos and marks, we were asking about our uniforms and -- it's very clearly that they liked the sash and wanted it used in some way, shape, or form. That was really loud and clear,” Flaherty said.

Others around the league realize that the sash IS PORTLAND.

Flaherty continued, “it’s one visual element that we kind of own across the league. When you turn on the TV and you see the sash, those stripes -- it’s us automatically."

Adams added that basketball fans across the country don’t need to see the word Portland Trail Blazers on a graphic or on the jersey to know what team is playing once they’ve see the stripes.

“When you’re changing the channel, or flipping through, it’s immediate to notice, ‘okay, that’s the Trail Blazers -- they’ve got that cool line across their chest.’”

THE PROCESS OF DESIGNING A JERSEY

Since the NBA partnered with Nike during the 2017-18 season, teams now have up to five or sometimes six uniforms a year.

Adams, Flaherty, and Trail Blazers Art Director Mario Milosevic currently design the jerseys with a handful of other people within the organization. 

Designing new looks is always ongoing.

These are the five Trail Blazers uniforms for the 2019-20 season:

“We’re continually updating and working with [Nike] on what the new design can look like for the City Edition, which is every year.” Adams said. “The Statement, which is at least now every three years, and then we get an Earned Uniform if we make the playoffs.”

Fans will not find the stripes across the chest on a 'City Edition' jersey or a 'Statement Edition,' but rather on ‘The Association’ and ‘Icon’ editions, which lean more on the side of traditional for the old school fans that like that consistent look.

NBA design teams are mocking up the look and feel of the uniforms years before fans are able to throw on their favorite player’s jersey.

The Trail Blazers Brand Team is currently working on the 2022-23 ‘City Edition’ uniforms.

Luckily, Nike is already out ahead of the fashion fads.

“We work closely with Nike on that. They’re obviously ahead of the trends. They’re producing shoes in the same time frame and footwear and apparel two or three years out, so they’re creating trends in the industry so we rely on their expertise to guide us on that, as they help guide all the other 29 teams in the league,” Adams said.

Sometimes Nike will “push the envelope on the original design,” Adams said, adding, “it’s a real good partnership working with them and the league.”

The partnership between the Portland Trail Blazers and a sash on traditional jerseys is also a real good collaboration as well.

To learn more about your hometown team's look and design, check out the video at the top of the article.

The NBA has a targeted return date

The NBA has a targeted return date

Things continue to trend in the right direction for the NBA resuming play.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had a meeting with the Board of Governors Friday that involved discussions of the league returning to play and included a targeted return date of July 31, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The news comes six days after the NBA announced negotiations with Walt Disney Company to play out the remainder of the 2019-20 season at its ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

But in which format? 

The NBA is reportedly considering four different structures on how the league will return to the court: 16 teams advancing directly to the postseason, 20 teams for a group stage, 22 teams which involves a play-in tournament for the final seeds, or 30 teams that finish a 72-game regular season and have a play-in tournament. 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski later reported that the league's Board of Governors plans to vote on Thursday with the expectation of approving Adam Silver's recommendation to play the season in Orlando.  

According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, if the NBA did play regular season games then teams within six games of a playoff spot would be invited back to participate in the remainder of the regular season and a play-in tournament for the final playoff berths.

However, bringing back all 30 teams has been thought to be unlikely given that many non-playoff teams don't want to return to the court without a chance at the postseason.

Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan reportedly fought for player safety in the meeting and didn't want players returning for "meaningless" games. 

This sentiment was earlier stated by Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard who said he won't suit up when the NBA returns unless the Blazers have a real shot at the postseason.

"If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team. But I'm not going to be participating. I'm telling you that right now. And you can put that in there," Lillard told Yahoo! Sports NBA Insider Chris Haynes on Tuesday morning.

Here's a quick breakdown of each potential structure.

16 teams: Directly to playoffs

This method has the NBA advancing directly to the postseason using the standings as of the season's suspension on March 11. Under this proposal, the Portland Trail Blazers would miss the postseason for the first time since 2013 as they're 3.5 games behind Memphis for the final playoff spot.

In a survey filled out by NBA General Managers, 53% were in favor of this plan, or 16/30. 

20 teams: Group Stage

The NBA would take the 16 teams currently in playoff position, and then four next-best teams in the playoff race, coincidentally all from the Western Conference and replace the first round with a group stage where the best two teams from each group advance to the second round.

The Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, and San Antonio Spurs would be brought back with this idea along with the original 16 teams. 

Since Kevin O'Connor of the Ringer broke down how the format could work in detail here, the idea has received a positive response on NBA Twitter but only 25% of NBA GMs voted for the World Cup-style group stage in comparison to the play-in tournament. 

22 teams: Games to determine seeding with play-in tournament for final seeds

It's unclear which additional teams would be brought in besides the four mentioned in the group stage. Perhaps the Pheonix Suns who are two games behind San Antonio and the Washington Wizards, the ninth seed in the East, who are 5.5 games out of a playoff spot. 

A play-in tournament would be the preferred method by Damian Lillard for the league to return to play.

[RELATED]: Damian Lillard explains how he'd structure the NBA's return

30 teams: 72-game regular season, with play-in tourney

60% of general managers voted for the 72-game season in the survey. This would allow each time to fulfill, or mostly fulfill their local broadcast deals, and fans would still get a chance to see teams play head-to-head to make the postseason. However, non-playoff GMs are split on if they want to even resume the season so this seems unlikely. 

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.

Ever wonder how the Trail Blazers settled on their team name?

Ever wonder how the Trail Blazers settled on their team name?

Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a three-part series, as we explore more about the meaning behind the name, Portland Trail Blazers with the Trail Blazers Brand Team including, Director of Brand and Retail Marketing Todd Adams, Vice President of Brand Strategy Ryan Flaherty, and Trail Blazers Art Director Mario Milosevic.

In professional sports, more often than not a team name is either an animal of some kind or has some significance to the team and city.  

For the Portland Trail Blazers, the name came about from Oregonians.

Yes, the fans decided the name.

It was determined by a contest in 1970 with over 10,000 entries. One hundred and 72 people sent in the name 'Trail Blazers.'

Ryan Flaherty, the Trail Blazers President of Brand Strategy, who has been in marketing and brand development for the Blazers for over 24 years, explained how one the team's founder, Harry Glickman, was quick to get people involved and thus interested an NBA team early on.  

“Not only did we need a logo but we needed a name. Harry was a super savvy marketer back in the day and he conducted a fan vote for the name,” Flaherty said. 

The nickname was unique in professional sports at the time and still is to this day.

It's apparent that having a personalized touch on everything the Trail Blazers do has been engraved in the organization since day one.  

Flaherty mentioned that to the best of his knowledge, Glickman mailed everyone who sent in the name ‘Trail Blazers,’ a letter addressed personally from Glickman, stating that their selection was made.

Other vote getters included the “Portland Pioneers” and the “Doug Firs.”

Just imagine that for a moment.

There would be a lot of logo possibilities with the Doug Firs, that’s for sure.

So, how do the Trail Blazers describe what it means to be a Trail Blazer?

There are have been many stories over the years referencing the Portland Trail Blazers as blazing the pathways through the state of Oregon, but really what it comes down to the for the Blazers organization, is they simply use the dictionary.

“How we define it -- we literally take the definition right out of the dictionary when we are talking about our name,” Flaherty added. “We usually refer to ourselves as pioneers, leaders on a path.”

Even though many probably haven’t given this much thought, the Trail Blazers Director of Brand and Retail Marketing Todd Adams explained that -- the Blazers have never had any legal trouble with the name thanks to one tiny space.

“One thing that helps us from a legal standpoint -- the actual noun, Trailblazer, is one word, but our team name is Trail Blazers as two words, so that’s something that we’re able to own actually from the US trademark office and it also allows us to shorten and take the second term -- Blazers -- which you see on our jersey,” Adams said.  “We’ve actually never had a jersey that said Trail Blazers across the chest. It’s always been Blazers…  It’s one of the longest team name’s in at least our league, maybe most leagues.”

Yes, that does give way to some design challenges on uniforms, but whether you perform saying the full name, Portland Trail Blazers, or going with Trail Blazers or just simply Blazers, now you can have the added satisfaction of knowing fellow fans are to thank for the name.   

To learn more about your hometown team's look and design, check out the video at the top of the article.

Carmelo Anthony doesn’t care for Michael Jordan, LeBron James G.O.A.T. debates

Carmelo Anthony doesn’t care for Michael Jordan, LeBron James G.O.A.T. debates

Carmelo Anthony has watched “The Last Dance” documentary, and he’ll even tell you Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.

But when it comes to G.O.A.T. debates between the Chicago Bulls legend and LeBron James, the Trail Blazers star is not having it.

"I don't like it,” Anthony told CBS Sports. “And I say that because whenever we do that, we fail to appreciate what we have in front of us. Any time these comparisons are made, whether it's anybody -- old school versus new school -- it's like, why can't we just appreciate everybody for what they bring to the game?"

Melo has grown to appreciate both players games over the years. He developed a relationship with Jordan when he became the first signature athlete to sign with Jordan Brand in 2003. He’s also played basketball with LeBron since high school and the Lakers star once saved Anthony’s life when he was drowning in the Bahamas.

All allegiances aside, Anthony doesn’t think you have to side with one or the other. 

You know, M.J. is the GOAT. He's the greatest ever. We all know that, and we all agree to that. Why can't we say that, but also give LeBron his flowers while he's here too?" Why can't we say, 'M.J. was very great, LeBron is very great, Kobe is very great.' We're not allowed to say those things today, because it's always this or that, and that's just our society -- you have to choose one.

Watching The Last Dance did enlighten Melo though. He also believes it gave viewers a glimpse into what kind of person MJ was rather than the names like M.J. the great, Basketball God and Black Jesus that followed him after his legendary years on the court.

“He was a mythical person, like a mythical creature,” Melo said. “Nobody understood who he was or what he was. I think seeing him kind of take the lid off the pot and having the chance to kind of just tell his story and people can hear his passion -- what he's into, what he's not, and how he operates on the day-to-day, his mentality. Most people loved it. Some people were very surprised. And then there were people who hated it, because a lot of times people hate the actual truth."

LeBron James’ contributions might not match up to the greatness of Jordan. We don’t know, the story of his basketball career is still being written. What we do know is that both Jordan and LeBron have transcended the sport as we know it and helped grow the game on a global scale. 

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.