Damian Lillard downplayed any rumored issues between him and LaMarcus Aldridge, and denied that their relationship was part of the reason Aldridge decided to leave the Trail Blazers for the Spurs as an unrestricted free agent this summer, Paul Flannery of SB Nation writes. “Our relationship was fine,” Lillard said. “Me and LA never had an argument. People are searching for something that’s not there. When you have two All-Stars on the same team and one of them decides to leave, it’s automatically, ‘They didn’t get along.’ We had back-to-back 50-win seasons. We both made the All-Star team. We played through him and after that it was me and that was that. We played well together. We never had an issue.”
Portland executive Neil Olshey noted that the franchise sought Lillard’s approval before embarking on a full-rebuild and surrounding the point guard with a younger crop of players, Flannery adds in the same piece. “This was not done without Dame’s participation,” Olshey said. “If he was at all reticent, if he said it would be great if you could get me another vet to help out, we would have gone out and found a couple of other guys to take the pressure off of him. He’s not that kind of kid. He embraces it. He thrives on it.”
Here’s more from out West:
- Former NBA player Lamar Odom was hospitalized after he was found unconscious earlier this evening at a Nevada brothel, Andrew Dalton and Sally Ho of The Associated Press report. The 35-year-old was stabilized and taken to Desert View Hospital in nearby Pahrump, a sheriff’s office statement said. There was no further word on Odom’s condition. Odom’s last NBA action came during the 2012/13 season with the Clippers.
- Zach Randolph is prepared to do whatever it takes to help the Grizzlies win this season, including accepting a reduction in his minutes in order to preserve his energy and health, Teresa M. Walker of The Associated Press writes. “I think I’m still in my prime, and I’m going to let my game, the way I play, speak for itself,” Randolph said. “But I mean whatever I need to do to help this team, if it’s play less minutes, whatever, I’m with this team whatever we need to do.“
- Blazers power forward Ed Davis has switched representation from Relativity Sports to IT Sports Management and agent Paolo Zamorano, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets. Davis inked a three-year, $20MM deal with Portland this offseason.
- Dwight Howard has no desire to repeat the circus that accompanied his previous forays into free agency, and he intends to keep the focus on the Rockets‘ 2015/16 campaign, and not where he may be playing next season, Fran Blinebury of NBA.com writes. The big man can opt out of his current deal after the season and become an unrestricted free agent, Blinebury adds, and Howard believes that he can play for another 10 seasons. “Even though this will be my 12th season in the NBA, I still feel like I’ve got a lot left in me,” Howard said. “I believe my best 10 years are still in front of me, if we play it smart and I appreciate the coaching staff, the training staff and everybody for working toward that.“