Damian Lillard does not intend to move on from the Portland Trail Blazers to team up with other NBA stars any time soon.

The guard signed a four-year, $196million extension with the Trail Blazers and refuses to "sell out" for championship rings by leaving the city that picked him sixth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Lillard spoke with Complex on Wednesday and discussed his thoughts about super teams.

"I think people are taking control because there's no greater time to do it than now," Lillard said.

"And I don't have a problem with that, but the way I see stuff is, like, I don't prefer to go that route. Just like they're choosing to do this stuff for their career, I'm choosing to do what I want for mine, too."

This offseason was an eventful one in the NBA. Kevin Durant elected to part ways with the Golden State Warriors to join the Brooklyn Nets, Anthony Davis forced his way to the Los Angeles Lakers via trade request and Paul George leveraged his way to an ideal situation when he joined Kawhi Leonard on the Los Angeles Clippers. 

The balance of power has shifted in the NBA because of these moves, but Lillard wants to stay put and win it all on his own terms.

"To leave, what did I invest all this time for just to leave, you know?" Lillard said. "If I go play with three other stars, I don't think that many people would doubt that I could win it. We would win it, but what is the challenge or the fun in that?"

Lillard, a four-time All-Star, has consistently been one of the best guards in the NBA in recent years. He has career averages of 23.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists and has developed a reputation for knocking down clutch shots – like the signature dagger that eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder from the 2018-19 playoffs.

"I wanna be the one, the star that wants to be here [in Portland]," Lillard said. "I wanna be the one that embodies all of those things and then be a part of the rise from 'we haven't won since '77, and now we won, and Dame's everything to our city'. I just am who I am, and that fits here."

CJ McCollum has reportedly agreed a three-year, $100million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

According to ESPN, McCollum's representative Sam Goldfeder has confirmed a deal has been struck.

This extension will be tacked on to the four-year, $106m contract McCollum signed in 2016.

The 27-year-old guard, who seemingly confirmed the news via responses to messages of congratulations on his official Twitter feed, became eligible for the extension last week and will partner with Damian Lillard in Portland's backcourt for the foreseeable future.

Lillard is fresh off a four-year, $196m supermax extension he signed in July and has played alongside McCollum since 2013-14.

McCollum averaged 21.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in 70 regular-season appearances with the Trail Blazers in 2018-19.

He helped Portland finish the year with a 53-29 record, which ranked third in the Western Conference.

Portland were swept aside by the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, though, and are still looking to take the next step and contend for a championship. 

The Trail Blazers are expected to get Jusuf Nurkic back next season as he suffered a season-ending leg injury in March. They also upgraded their frontcourt by trading for Hassan Whiteside and selecting North Carolina's Nassir Little in the 2019 NBA Draft.

The NBA summer league is winding down, as the preliminary round of games ends on Thursday.

Only the top eight seeds will advance to a single-elimination tournament set to begin on July 13, so quite a few prospects will have to wait until the preseason begins in October to return to the court.

Some players have surpassed expectations in July while others have not. Success in the summer league does not necessarily translate to the regular season, but let's take a look at who is hot and who is not so far.

 

Hot

Tyler Herro, Miami Heat

Herro's criticism ahead of the 2019 NBA draft was based on his poor defense and lack of efficiency, despite his reputation as a sharpshooter. The summer league has allowed him to showcase that he has more to offer than shooting, though.

The 6-5 guard initiated the Heat's offense early and often and helped lead the team to a 3-1 record in the preliminary round. He showcased his playmaking ability out of pick-and-roll sets and has averaged 19.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.5 steals.

Herro probably is not close to becoming a primary option for the Heat, especially since Miami already have Goran Dragic, Jimmy Butler and Justise Winslow on board. But Herro's versatility is a good sign.

Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio Spurs

Walker had his rookie season derailed by a meniscus tear, but he appears like he is poised to have a great sophomore campaign.

The 6-5 guard entered Thursday tied for first in the summer league in points per game (30.0) and he has been ridiculously efficient. Walker shot 58 per cent from the field in his two appearances.

His team went 2-2, so it is not likely he will play again in the tournament.

The Spurs will have some serious battles in their 2019-20 backcourt, as Walker will compete with the likes of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and DeMar DeRozan for time after playing in just 17 regular season games last season.

Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors

The Raptors have found yet another diamond in the rough.

Boucher, 26, has played in 29 regular season games and is routinely dominating the summer league by averaging 22.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per contest. Toronto have the NBA's reigning Most Improved Player in Pascal Siakam, and Boucher could be up next. 

The 6-10 big man is fresh off a season in which he was crowned MVP and Defensive Player of the Year of the G-League, playing for Toronto 905. He won his second straight NBA title with the Raptors in 2018-19, as he played for the Golden State Warriors in 2017-18.

The departure of Kawhi Leonard could clear space for him to break into Toronto's rotation.

Not

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks

New York were initially favoured to win the summer league championship but went an underwhelming 1-3.

Barrett, the third overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, averaged 14.0 points and 8.8 rebounds but shot 30 per cent from the field with genuine rotation players around him.

The Knicks could be in a lot of trouble if his shooting struggles linger.

Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers

Many felt Portland got a steal when they selected Little with the 25th pick in 2019 but he definitely has some work to do.

The 6-7 wing has tallied 22 minutes per contest through three games. He is averaging 4.3 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 33 per cent from the field. 

Little has shown flashes of his athleticism and is still figuring out how to fit in offensively.

Dean Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers

Wade went undrafted after four years at Kansas State, so there were not lofty expectations for him.

However, the Cavaliers have not received much from him in the 27 minutes he has averaged through three games.

The 6-10 forward is averaging 5.7 points and 5.7 rebounds but is only shooting 26 per cent from the field. That is a big drop off for a player who was the first option in college and hovered around 50 per cent shooting.

Enes Kanter is making headlines for saying something controversial once again, this time about Zion Williamson.

The Portland Trail Blazers center has never been shy about expressing his views and unleashed his latest hot take during a stop on the Herd with Colin Cowherd on Wednesday.

Kanter played down the talent of Williamson, who was taken with the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans.

"I like Zion Williamson," Cowherd tells Kanter. "He can pass, he's big, he's strong. I think he's got a magnetism – you think he's overrated."

"I kind of feel like he's overhyped," Kanter responded. "I feel like he's Julius Randle with hops."

Randle is a solid player in his own right. He had an excellent year for the Pelicans in 2018-19, putting up career-highs in points per game (21.4) and three-point percentage (34) to go along with 8.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists. 

Randle had a monster game when Kanter and the Trail Blazers came to town with a stat-line of 45 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and three blocks. 

He was not having any of it, using Twitter to remind Kanter of his dominant performance and telling him to "relax bro".

The NBA Draft is a gamble.

Players who everyone is convinced are going to be good (Greg Oden, Markelle Fultz, Jahlil Okafor) sometimes are not. Whether that is because of fit or injury or whatever, sometimes things just do not work out.

But no matter what happens, after every draft people leave loving what their team secured or flat-out hating it.

So, what did we love and flat-out hate from the first round of this draft? Oh, there was plenty.

Here are the best and worst picks from the first round of the NBA Draft.

 

Worst picks

Cameron Johnson, North Carolina, Phoenix Suns - No. 11 overall

This is nothing against Johnson. He is a long athlete who can shoot the ball like crazy and he is a mature player who can contribute right away. But the Suns do not need someone to contribute right away. They are probably, at least, three years away. And they traded another piece in TJ Warren before the draft even started, so they took an even further move back.

What makes this even worse is the Suns actually traded down from sixth to take Johnson at number 11. They had a shot to take Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver, who is younger, a fantastic defender and fits the Suns' timeline. Phoenix probably could have secured Johnson eight or nine picks later. And, if they could not and another team took him with the 12th pick, then they should have let them, because the value was not right. The Suns' decision here does not make a lot of sense.

Chuma Okeke, Auburn, Orlando Magic - No. 16 overall

Okeke is athletic, he can shoot and he gives tons of effort. But he just tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and had surgery in April. He will likely be out for the entire season, and if the Magic lose Nikola Vucevic in free agency, it could be an insanely rough season in Orlando.

Orlando finally took a step forward last season by reaching the playoffs and adding a player who could contribute sooner like Nickeil Alexander-Walker out of Virginia Tech or Brandon Clarke out of Gonzaga might have both filled needs and given more immediate production. Terrence Ross could leave in free agency, as well, and Alexander-Walker could have helped that loss while Clarke would step in to fill a bit of a void left by Vucevic, even if he does not have that kind of size. This one just seems like it was not thought out all the way.

 

Best picks

Grant Williams, Tennessee, Boston Celtics - No. 22 overall

This one is actually kind of on the line of the Cameron Johnson pick. Williams was probably taken a little bit too early. He is a bit of a polarising prospect who some ranked as high as 15 on their big boards but others saw him closer to the late first round or even early second. So, the argument could be made the Celtics reached a little bit here.

But, Williams is just too perfect for the Celtics to dislike the pick. He is a hard worker who excels on the offensive boards and gets more out of his smaller frame than just about anyone in this draft. Brad Stevens will absolutely love this guy. And, he is a better shooter than people give him credit for, which also fills a need for Boston. The Celtics need shooting and Williams gives them that. It is really hard to dislike this pick.

Nassir Little, North Carolina, Portland Trail Blazers - No. 25 overall

It did not make much sense that Little fell to the 25th pick but the Trail Blazers could not care less. This is easy to write as Little was one of the top recruits in the 2018 class and has one of the highest ceilings in this entire draft.

He logically could step in and give the Trail Blazers huge minutes right away and shoots more than well enough to help the team space the floor. He has also already shown in his time at North Carolina that he does not always have to have the ball and is humble enough to take a lesser role for the betterment of the team. Portland have to be absolutely over the moon after getting Little. And, the Trail Blazers did not even have to trade up to do it.

Terry Stotts received a multi-year contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers in part because of his success developing young players.

News of the extension was revealed on Tuesday as the Blazers went through their exit interviews following the 4-0 series defeat to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

Confirming the news, general manager Neil Olshey told reporters: "We win every year. But it goes beyond just wins and losses. It's alignment. It's partnership. It's knowing the organisation is moving forward.

"It's a commitment to a longer-term view, that there are priorities beyond just the next game.

"We still have one of the youngest rosters in the league. Every [player] who has come through here has gotten better. At heart, you're hiring a coach to be a teacher.

"As we see the league get younger, there's such a value placed — especially in a market like Portland, where we can't always buy our way out of trouble — on developing our young players and finding reclamation projects and developing them.

"I don't know that anybody has had as much success as this staff in second-round picks panning out, guys who have flamed out elsewhere becoming contributors and integral players. That consistency is important."

Former Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks coach Stotts took over the Blazers in 2012. They have made the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons and won 50 games or more three times.

"I'm pleased with the season," Stotts said. "I'm pleased we came to an agreement. I'm very happy here. I'm happy with the team.

"It was probably the most enjoyable year I've had as a head coach as far as the group of guys we had. We've gone through peaks and valleys over my tenure. This is another peak. I couldn't be more happy things have turned out the way we have.

"I never thought I was going to get another opportunity as a head coach. Neil plucked me out and gave me the opportunity. To be here seven years later is remarkable. I have a lot of gratitude for everyone who has helped make that possible."

The Trail Blazers are also expected to give All-Star point guard Damian Lillard a supermax extension this offseason, stretching out his deal to six years.

Steve Kerr hopes the Golden State Warriors' fifth consecutive NBA Finals appearance does not go "unnoticed or underrated" as he emphasised the difficultly of the achievement.

Two-time reigning champions Golden State outlasted the Portland Trail Blazers 119-117 in overtime to claim a 4-0 series sweep in the Western Conference Finals.

With Monday's victory in Portland, the Warriors became the first team since the Boston Celtics in 1966 to reach five successive finals, and head coach Kerr hailed the feat.

"I hope it doesn't go unnoticed or underrated," Kerr told reporters. "Five straight finals hasn't been done since the 60s, since Bill Russell's Celtics. It hasn't been done for a reason: It's really, really difficult.

"I just can't say enough about the competitive desire of the group of players that we have here and the culture that they have built together. Playing together regardless of injury. Being without Kevin [Durant] these last five games has put us in a really tough spot and our guys stepped up in a big way.

"A couple years back, we were without Steph [Curry] for over a two-year period, I think he missed like 12 playoff games we won nine of them. So, the group has a fibre to them; where guys go down, they find a way to come together and compete and win.

"It starts defensively. If you can defend at a high level in the playoffs, you always have a chance. But I just think the experience of winning titles helps you in these moments and it helps you continue to move forward and come away with victories like tonight."

It was a historic night for the Warriors as Stephen Curry and Draymond Green became the first team-mates in playoff history to both record triple-doubles in the same game.

Curry posted 37 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, while Green had 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to see the Warriors through to a showdown against the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors.

"They have been playing pick-and-roll together for five years, more than that, seven years and Draymond is an amazing playmaker and Steph is so lethal, he's going to draw a lot of attention," Kerr added.

"They have a lot of knack for working the pick-and-roll together, finding openings and then attacking. They are both great passers, as well.

"They are fun to watch. They are kind of made for each other from a basketball standpoint. You know, they have been doing this for a long time, so they have got a real feel for each other."

The Golden State Warriors became the first team since the Boston Celtics in 1966 to reach five consecutive NBA Finals.

Two-time reigning champions Golden State completed a 4-0 Western Conference Finals series sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers thanks to Monday's 119-117 overtime victory.

The Warriors are just the second team in league history to accomplish the feat, joining the Celtics – who reached the Finals in 10 straight years from 1957-66.

Golden State will be playing for their third successive championship and fourth title during the stretch.

The Warriors' lone Finals loss came to the Cleveland Cavaliers after seven games in 2015-16.

Golden State will face the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors.

Milwaukee hold a 2-1 lead in that matchup heading into Game 4 on Tuesday.

Draymond Green said he will pay to fly a reporter to the NBA Finals after the Golden State Warriors advanced to the championship decider for the fifth successive year.

Golden State's quest for a three-peat of titles continued after sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers 4-0 in the Western Conference Finals on Monday.

Green played a leading role in Portland, where the Warriors star had 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in the 119-117 overtime victory.

And Green called out one certain reporter during his post-game news conference.

"You were good luck today," three-time champion Green said before the reporter could finish his question.

The reporter then replied by asking if the Warriors would fly him out for the NBA Finals.

"Absolutely," Green responded. "… I'll pay for the ticket myself."

Laughter broke out in the news conference as Green insisted he would not pay for the reporter's hotel.

The Warriors will face either the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals.

The Golden State Warriors are back in the NBA Finals for the fifth successive season at the expense of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Golden State completed a 4-0 sweep of the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals with a 119-117 overtime win in Game 4. 

Here are three takeaways from two-time defending champions Golden State's big win in Portland on Monday.

 

Leonard the X-factor nobody was ready for

Portland's Meyers Leonard had a career night against the Warriors.

The seventh-year center poured in 25 first-half points, which is more than he has ever scored in a game in the NBA or college. He finished with a team-high 30 points, 12 rebounds and knocked down five three-pointers in the contest.

Leonard's insertion into the starting line-up was essential to stretching Golden State's defense out, but it was not enough to prolong the series.

 

Curry has continued to step it up

Stephen Curry is on a roll.

The Warriors star has scored at least 30 points in his last five playoff games, but he took things up a notch on Monday, recording a triple-double.

Curry finished with 37 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in Golden State's win, while team-mate Draymond Green tallied a triple-double of his own.

Two-time MVP Curry has been re-asserting his dominance as of late, which is a great sign for the Warriors – who have been playing without injured star Kevin Durant.

Curry did not sit for a single second after half-time on the road.

 

Golden State owned the boards

The Warriors took control of the rebounding battle, beating the Trail Blazers on the boards 56-38.

Golden State created plenty of second-chance opportunities, as they grabbed 15 offensive rebounds compared to Portland's six.

The Warriors will now await the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors. Milwaukee enter Tuesday's Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead. 

Golden State Warriors pair Stephen Curry and Draymond Green became the first team-mates in NBA playoff history to both record triple-doubles in the same game.

Curry and Green made history as two-time reigning champions the Warriors swept the Portland Trail Blazers to reach the NBA Finals on Monday.

Warriors star Curry posted 37 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in Portland, where the Warriors outlasted the Trail Blazers 119-117 in overtime of the Game 4 Western Conference Finals clash.

Green, meanwhile, had 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. He made an impact defensively too, chipping in three steals and two blocks.

With the win, the Warriors advanced to their fifth successive NBA Finals. Golden State are just the second team in history to play in five consecutive Finals.

The Warriors will face the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors.

Milwaukee hold a 2-1 lead in that matchup heading into Game 4 on Tuesday.

The Golden State Warriors have reached their fifth successive NBA Finals after sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is not worried about his injury.

Lillard, who has been playing through a separated rib on his left side against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals, told reporters on Sunday he feels "fine".

"I don't think it's something that's affecting my game," Lillard told reporters.

"Not really [limiting], just the pain from having a separated rib. There's nothing you can really do about it. Just when I get winded, it's a little harder to breathe. Contact, when you're in there banging with guys, just normal stuff."

Lillard appeared to suffer the injury when he collided with Kevon Looney in the third quarter of Game 2.

He then played 40 minutes in Game 3, scoring 19 points on five-of-18 shooting. 

The 28-year-old star has knocked down just 32.9 per cent of his field-goal attempts and turned the ball over 14 times in the series against the Warriors.

"There's not much you can do to increase my level of respect for him," backcourt partner CJ McCollum said.

"I understand who he is as a person to the core, so it's an unfortunate situation and injury to have to fight through, but he's a strong person, and understanding what's at stake.

"We're in the playoffs right now, so there's no excuses and there's no way I feel like he can sit out of a game or anything of that nature. So, we've just got to keep pushing forward, and as I said, we can rest in the summer."

The Trail Blazers held double-digit half-time leads in each of the past two games. But, the Warriors rallied and came away with wins in both of those matchups to take a 3-0 advantage.

"You look at the numbers and there's a slim chance of you winning the series like that, but we've got a lot to play for," Lillard said.

"Obviously you never know when the first time it's going to happen, we could be the first team to do it. Also, you don't want to go out being swept in the Western Conference finals. Pride, being competitors, being professionals, we've got a lot to play for. We're not ready to just go out there and say, 'Oh, we did our best, we had a great season.' We've got a lot to play for."

Game 4 between the Warriors and Trail Blazers is on Monday.

Terry Stotts thinks effort will be more important than strategy when the Portland Trail Blazers try to avoid being swept by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

The Warriors moved 3-0 up in the series with a 110-99 victory over the Trail Blazers on Saturday, Stephen Curry scoring 36 points while Draymond Green claimed a triple-double.

Portland held an 18-point lead in the second quarter but added just 13 in the third as Golden State came from behind to move one win away from a fifth straight NBA Finals appearance.

Stotts felt the Trail Blazers offense "fell apart" in the second half and called for improved energy levels in Game 4 at Moda Center on Monday.

"We're going to give it our best effort on Monday. I mean, that's all that matters, is we give it our best effort. We give it everything we have on Monday, and whatever happens, happens," said Stotts.

"But that's [about] having the pride and professionalism to give it the best effort and to get a home win, and then go from there.

"I don't know if it's as much about strategy as about just rallying around and giving it the best effort possible."

Portland overcame the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round before beating the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 in the semi-finals, and C.J. McCollum, who scored a team-high 23 points on seven-of-20 shooting, is excited by the prospect of an all-or-nothing match.

"You never want a series to end, especially in your home court. Everybody on this team has pride," said McCollum.

"Everybody on this team understands what's at stake, and we've been through a lot of adversity this season and in our lives individually. We're looking forward to the challenge.

"We dug ourselves in quite a hole but now for us it's just one game at a time. The next game is Monday at home in front of our fans and we want to do our best to try to put on a good show."

Damian Lillard added: "It starts with one. We've still got another game on our floor, and that's a solid start for us.

"We can't look at Game 5 or Game 6 or any of that. We've just got to get one. We're confident that we can do that and then once we do that, we build from there."

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green has made changes to his on-court demeanour because he believes it had become "disgusting" to watch him play.

Green produced a phenomenal display as the Warriors took a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals with a 110-99 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, who had an 18-point late in the second quarter, on Saturday.

The fiery 2017 NBA Defensive Player of the Year had 20 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists and four steals for his seventh playoff triple-double and third this postseason.

Green has a history of arguing with officials and was involved in a public argument with team-mate Kevin Durant during an overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in November, but the three-time All-Star took a more measured approach with Jordan Bell after the center missed a dunk with the Warriors trailing by eight in the third quarter.

Head coach Steve Kerr referred to Green as a "wrecking ball" following his galvanising performance and said he is not letting anything bother him, something the Golden State forward has been working on.

"I think it [avoiding confrontation with the officials] definitely helps the energy of guys. I still like to pick and choose my spots. Sometimes I may take a tech, but that's more mindful than just getting a tech. Sometimes I know I need an energy burst; maybe I'll take one," said Green.

"But sometimes I'm not mindful, and I'll get a tech and that will just kill the energy of our team. I've really been focused and locked in on that and I realised I got to a point where I was doing more crying than playing.

"I'm sure it was disgusting to watch because I felt disgusting playing that way, and I just wanted to lock back in on the game.

"I understand that officials aren't perfect and I still have conversations with them now, when they miss a call, but it's a completely different conversation.

"My mom has been really big. My fiancee has been really big, just talking to me about that and just telling me to stay locked in on the game.

"I also have some little ones at the house that are enjoying watching me play. I don't necessarily want them to see that. So [I] just try to be more mindful of it."

Green, who was in double digits for rebounds for the eighth game in succession, was key as he consistently pushed the ball in transition, but he is willing to take a back seat when Durant and DeMarcus Cousins return from their respective calf and thigh injuries.

"I feel great, and just trying to bring whatever I've got to bring to the table to help this team win, to help DeMarcus [Cousins] and Kevin get back out there on the floor," he said.

"When we have Steph [Stephen Curry], Klay [Thompson], KD, DeMarcus, I don't need to play like that. As crazy as it sounds, somebody has to give up something when you have that many guys who are capable of doing what they are doing.

"I take it upon myself to be the guy to give that up. I think I'm playing great right now but I'm not the scorer that those four guys are.

"If I'm wide open and Klay is half open, I think it's still a better shot if I give the ball to Klay. That's just my mindset where we got all our guys on the floor but when they are not, I have to have a different mindset to step up for the team, as everyone has stepped up their game a notch."

Page 1 of 12
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.