No significant progress has been made on a Lillard deal since he asked Portland’s front office to move him in early July. He hasn’t relented on his desire to leave, which means Billups can’t be certain what his roster will ultimately look like with training camp less than two weeks away.
“Obviously it’s unsettling, it’s difficult,” Billups said. “But for me, all I can do, I’m responsible for giving my best to who we have. I don’t know how it’s going to play out. There’s nothing I can do to control it. But I do know who we have on our team right now and who I’ve been working with this summer. Who I’m excited about. All I can really do is pour myself into our guys. And see what happens whenever that happens. I’m excited about Shaedon (Sharpe’s) progress. And coaching Scoot (Henderson) and Ant (Anfernee Simons).
“Figuring out what happens with Dame? Everybody knows how I feel about Dame and my opportunity to coach him. We’ll just see. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’ll be ready to do the best I can.”
Unlike other stars who have asked to be traded, the demand hasn’t affected Lillard’s popularity, as the Portland fan base recognizes the loyalty he has shown to the franchise over the past 11 years. Billups doesn’t believe Lillard wants to do anything to hurt the organization, adding that Blazers fans will continue to cheer for him wherever he goes.
“Dame is one of the most stable human beings I’ve ever been around,” Billups added. “He’s not about any type of drama. So this whole process probably weighs very heavy on him. It’s just not who he is. But he’s at a crossroads in his career, and he’s doing what he feels is best for him and his family. I’m always going to be supportive of that.”
Billups touches on several other subjects during the interview, including:
Expectations for Henderson, who is among the favorites to win Rookie of the Year:
“Scoot is going to be a star in this league. He plays both sides of the floor with ferocity. He is very, very driven. He’s a play-maker, he’s a real point guard. Got some leadership about him. He looks like he’s the starting safety of the Denver Broncos. He’s going to be an exciting player for the whole world to watch but our fan base, they can rest assured they’ll be entertained.”
Reasons for optimism about Sharpe after a promising rookie season:
“The steps he made last year. If you watched him at the end, he was lights out. I think he’s worked very hard since then to get better. It was a small sample size, but he was playing against a lot of those teams’ No. 1 defensive player. He was getting some tough coverages and he still was getting things done. I was very impressed with him.”
Jerami Grant‘s role after getting a new five-year, $160MM contract:
“I think Jerami fits in perfectly to what we’re doing. He’s a guy who loves to play the game. Unselfish, both offensively and defensively. Plays fast. Wants to play the right way. He’s going to be perfect for our young guys. He’s excited as well to be back.”