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Blazers’ Damian Lillard Wants to Spend Entire Career with Team, Talks Playing with CJ McCollum

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Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard had been the subject of trade rumors this offseason and will likely to be as the 2018-2019 season get underway, but he would prefer to stay with the Blazers for his entire career, according to The Athletic’s Michael Scotta.

“That would be an honor to be a lifetime Blazer,” Damian Lillard said at the NBA 2K launch in New York.

“Not a lot of guys get to play for one organization for their entire career. Obviously, I love playing for the Blazers. I love living in the city. I feel like I’ve established a connection with the people and the culture of the city just as much as I’ve done on the basketball court, so that’s important. But, as we know, it’s a business and a lot of times organizations have other plans, and sometimes players change their stance on that. But to be a lifetime Blazer, that would be great. I’m all on board for it.”

Lillard also enjoys playing with his close friend and teammate CJ McCollum, and knows that their chemistry to key to the success of the team while also realizing the Blazers need more than that to win.

“I think as far as me and CJ, our friendship is so strong that it allows us to play really well together on the court, and we get our job done every night,” Lillard continued. “But when you talk about winning the championship and competing in the playoffs against teams like Golden State, Houston and San Antonio and all those guys, it’s a group effort. We’ve all got to be able to count on each other to compete at that level. Our team, we’ve got a lot of guys that care and a lot of guys that work hard. We’ve just got to keep improving.”

 

Boston Celtics

Celtics’ Gordon Hayward Says He’s ‘Basically 100 Percent’

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Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward says that he is “basically” 100% eleven months removed from his gruesome 2017-208 season opening-night ankle injury, and has been playing 5-on5 games with teammates to prepare for training camp in October, according to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg.

“I would say I’m basically 100 percent,” Hayward said. “There’s certain things that I think are going to take time — even if I was 100 percent healthy, I’m not 100 percent as far as basketball-wise, just because I haven’t played in a year.

“I’m trying to figure those things out. The last step for me as far as from a physical standpoint is a little explosion, that little last juice bounce that you get. So that’s going to take me the longest time. But like I said, for the most part, I feel very good.”

Hayward discussed the latest milestone in his recovery, playing with his teammates again.

“It’s so much fun being able to play again, and play with my teammates,” Hayward described. “Using these past two weeks, and the next month or so, will be good to kind of get back into the game, feel the rhythm, the timing, different things like that. But it feels pretty good.”

“I think when you go through a process like this, you just find out that, if you want to get back to the player that you were, it takes a lot of effort,” said Hayward. “I think you find the fight within yourself because there’s so many days where I wake up and it’s like, ‘Man, here we go again.’ Another day I’m driving in, it’s freezing cold weather here in Boston, below zero, going into the facility, and the team’s in L.A., or they’re in Miami or whatever, and they’re playing, and I’m picking up marbles and putting them into a bucket. I’m standing on one leg and doing balance drills. I’m shooting from a chair.

“Like, all that stuff, to be able to get up and do it every day, and do it a little bit better the next day, and slowly work off getting out of the chair, and getting out of the boot, and now I can stand and shoot, and now I can do one dribble and shoot — and just the long process. I mean, it was a process and a journey. I’m still not there yet, but it just helped me find kind of a fight in me.”

Hayward is ready for the new season and expects to be on the court for the Celtics when the season tips off.

“Yeah, 100 percent I expect to be out there [on opening night],” Hayward proclaimed. “This is what this time is for me — to kind of find my groove a little bit. Like I said, you can do all the drills you want, all the cardio, the jumping [and] agility stuff. But there’s nothing like playing 5-on-5, so when I play out here with my teammates, when we get into practice situations, that’s going to be the best — playing in the preseason games, that will be the best work I can get.”

“Watching the guys last year just gave me a lot of confidence in our team and what I think we have the ability to do,” said Hayward. “I’ve been playing with some of them these last two weeks, and we have a lot of talent on this team. We have a lot of depth, and it’s going to be a fun year.”

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Golden State Warriors

Sixers, Lakers Interested In Jamal Crawford

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The Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers are interested in bringing in veteran free agent guard Jamal Crawford, according to ESPN’s Marc Spears during an appearance on ESPN’s ‘The Jump’.

The Golden State Warriors are also interested in Crawford, but if Patrick McCaw re-signs, there won’t be an available roster space.

Crawford, 38, reportedly isn’t close to making a decision on which team he wants to play for next season, but has stated in the past that he would like to play for the 76ers.

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Eastern Conference

Knicks to Target Kyrie Irving Next Summer

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The New York Knicks have their eyes on the summer of 2019 when they could have the opportunity to court their top free agent target, current Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, according to NBC Sports’ A. Sherrod Blakely.

“I’ve spoken with people within [the Knicks] organization. They have made it absolutely crystal clear to me that—if they had their pick of guys that are going to be in the free-agent market [next] summer—Kyrie would be their first, second, third and fourth choice,” Blakely said.

Irving, who is believed to be willing to give the Knicks “consideration” in free agency, is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract and will make $20.1 million with a player option of $21.3 million in 2018-2019.

 

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