Last season the Blazers were a pleasant surprise in the NBA after they made it to the WCF against the Golden State Warriors. Even though they were swept, the Blazers showed tremendous resilience and potential for years to come. This season has been entirely different because of their struggles to win games, and they are currently 11th in the western conference with 19 wins and 27 losses. Signing Carmelo Anthony didn’t help a lot because some of their best players are still injured.
The only real consistency for the Blazers this season is Damian Lillard, who is perhaps having the best season in his career. In the last two games, he scored an astonishing 108 points and is oftentimes leading the Blazers, but despite all that so far, it hasn’t much impact on their standings. The trade deadline ends on February 6th, and it will be interesting to see whether the Blazers make a move to improve their roster.
In a recent interview for The Athletic, Lillard was asked whether his commitment to the team will start to wear off if the Blazers don’t attract more talent around him. Lillard always spoke about staying loyal to the team no matter what happens, and he hasn’t changed his mind at all despite the current situation. He said he is not that type of guy that would go to the front office and request his teammates to be traded for someone else.
“That don’t have nothing to do with my commitment to the team. I mean, it’s not like we are going to do something that is going to take us to the championship at this point. I think it’s more important for us to protect the assets we have, the guys who are going to be here, and who are going to help us going forward. I don’t think it makes sense to sacrifice that just to make a desperate play. I will lose every game before I go in there and be like, ‘Trade this guy for that guy’ or anything like that. So, I don’t wish for that and that’s not how I go about it.
Lillard is aware of the fact the Blazers are not having a great season but is realistic and believes they can still fight through these obstacles and possibly repeat the same or greater success than last season. Hard times are ahead of the Blazers, but Lillard is prepared to weather the storm with the team no matter what.
“It’s been a tough season, but the season is not over. We can make something of this season as we are, but it’s not worth, you know, saying ‘OK, let’s force something and go do something that at the end of the day doesn’t make sense.’ But that has nothing to do with my commitment. I said it after the last game (Golden State): I feel like I can find a way. I can weather the storm. I can go through hard times.”
The Blazers are still missing CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkci in their lineups, which is leaving an impact on the team. Both of them are the members of their starting lineup, and even though it’s still questionable whether Nurkic will return this season, we might see CJ back. That will make Blazers and Lillard’s life much easier in the second half of the season when they need to make the final push for the playoffs.