Damian Lillard is staying focused on business as he waits to learn where he’ll be reporting to training camp in six weeks, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. It’s been nearly two months since Lillard asked the Trail Blazers for a trade, preferably to Miami, but the market has remained quiet throughout the summer.
“Mentally, I’m strong,” Lillard said Friday at his Formula Zero elite basketball camp in Phoenix. “I think the last year and some change in my life overall, it’s not even just sports, it’s been a tough time, but right now, I’m in a strong place. Anytime I can come be in this environment. Like I said, it’s a lot of my loved ones that are here doing what we do at this camp, pouring into people, that brings me joy. That’s something that lifts me up so to be here is helpful.”
Lillard is coming off his best statistical year, averaging 32.2 PPG in 58 games before being shut down late in the season. He’s devoted much of the summer to traveling and family time, but he’s also preparing to help the Blazers, Heat or any other team he winds up with.
“I’ve had a great summer of training,” Lillard said. “I do a lot of things now to pour into myself and lift myself up and it’s been really helpful. So I would say I’m in a very strong place. My process has been the same going into the season that it’s been any other time except I’m just getting better as a man. I think that really helps me as far as my career goes. Anytime I can be improving myself as a man, it’s going to be positive for me.”
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- Ashton Hagans‘ agreement with the Trail Blazers will be an Exhibit 10 deal, tweets Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report. Haynes reported on Friday that the 24-year-old point guard is expected to join Portland for training camp.
- The Jazz may not have a set rotation at point guard until well into the season, suggests Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Kris Dunn, Collin Sexton, Talen Horton-Tucker and Keyonte George will all compete for time at the position, and Jordan Clarkson and Ochai Agbaji may run the offense occasionally as well. Todd suggests that Dunn may be the favorite to start if he plays as well as he did last season, but the trade market could factor into playing time decisions.
- In a separate story, Todd looks at highlights of the Jazz schedule, including Hawks head coach Quin Snyder returning to Utah for the first time on March 15.