Damian Lillard will finally be making his Olympic debut this summer.
It’s been a long time coming for the nine-year NBA veteran whose basketball career has been all about being overlooked.
Now, that’s no more. Coming off a seventh-place MVP finish and averaging almost 30 points a game, Lillard could’ve been viewed as a lock for Team USA.
The slight problem with Lillard playing for the team could be scheduling. Training camp for the team begins July 6. August 7 could be the last day of Olympic play and NBA training camps begin September 28.
Although there’s a worry of Lillard overworking his body and making himself more susceptible to injury, former Blazer Channing Frye disagrees with the notion as he noted on the latest Talkin’ Blazers.
“Damian Lillard is one the most in-shape superstars that you see,” Frye said. “I think he’s one of the guys that dedicates his summer to his body and his craft. Also, we're missing the big picture. How are you going to recruit guys if they don’t know you?
“If you think of Team USA, you think KD and Kyrie, James Harden and KD, you think of Anthony Davis and LeBron. It has an absolute corner market of free agents of guys being like ‘I’d love to play with you.’ For him, he takes one summer, plays for his country, stays in shape. And then he’s talking to all these young guys, ‘man, I’d love for you to come here. Portland is tight.’
Many of the recent high-profile teams have seeds linking back to the Olympics. Depending on how Lillard plays his card, he could pull off what he’s always wanted: a name-brand star in Portland with him.
“It’s all a game and I think he needs to start doing that,” Frye said. “Everyone does it and everyone knows they've been doing it. But yeah, go out there and get somebody to come to Portland. See what Boston wants for Jaylen Brown, that’ll be sick.”