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Joe Ingles Discusses The Trade, Playing With Lillard And What He Feels He Owes The Trail Blazers

Prior to Wednesday's game versus the Jazz in Salt Lake City, Joe Ingles, acquired by the Trail Blazers from Utah at the 2022 trade deadline, discussed joining the Trail Blazers, his initial conversations with the front office, coaches and new teammates, being a free agent this summer and the surgery to repair his injured left ACL.

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What are your thoughts on the trade and joining the Trail Blazers even though you aren’t able to play?

Joe Ingles: Was probably still a little shocked from it all. Obviously knew there was a chance (of being traded) but, like I said a couple times, still didn’t believe it would happen. Probably for my own self, just obviously being here so long, and saying that, obviously knew it was a good chance. I guess just happy that the Trail Blazers were the team that traded for me and things so far have been really positive and the conversations, obviously unbelievable supportive with what I’ve been going through. To go to an organization that I guess I never thought I would be at -- or 28 others ones as well -- but then to come in and be supported, obviously they’re letting me stay here in Utah to rehab while my kids are in school and all that.

So they’ve set up the PT for me and really made it very easy for me to be able to do my rehab here, so very thankful for that. Just the conversations with Coach and with Dame and other players, the medical team and all that, it’s just been a really positive situation. Obviously coming into free agency with half a knee, it will be interesting, but like I said, I’m really glad it was Portland. The conversations and such have been really good so far.

After the trade happened, Trail Blazers interim general manager Joe Cronin talked about how much they valued you. From the outside looking in, people see your situation, see you’re a free agent and maybe make some assumptions, but it seems like the organization was excited to acquire you, not just your contract.

Joe Ingles: I think I thought the same as well, to be honest. I got traded and wasn’t sure what was going to happen that couple days leading into it. Went to a friends house to have a couple beers because it was a big day. I never thought it would happen, maybe that was very selfish of myself to think that. Was just in there with some friends and got a call from Joe at 9 o’clock the night that it happened, whenever it was, and same thing. I assumed a lot of other things would happen, getting bought out. Just a really positive conversation with him on that phone call and then I headed to Portland a few days after that to get my knee checked and all that. Same thing, sat down with him and the front office and the coaches, Dame, and everyone’s been really positive about it.

For something I didn’t think would happen and didn’t think I’d go through, to be on the other side of it now and have these experiences has been better than I ever could have thought it would have been.

Without getting into specifics, in talking with Damian Lillard, what was his message? Was there something you wanted to impart to him?

Joe Ingles: Real brief and general obviously, just talking about basketball really. Just basketball talk and what they’re trying to do as an organization, where he sees the team going forward from here. So really exciting for me to hear that from him and, from my point of view, to hopefully be a part of it, try and help him when I can actually run again. But I think I can. Playing against him for seven, eight year -- I think last year or the year before he averaged like 52 on us or something for the four or five games, however many times you play -- to be on the other side of it and to be a teammate with him when I can hopefully get out there and hopefully, if I’m back here next year. It’s really exciting, some of the young guys that they’ve got now playing and to be around Eli (Hughes) a little bit more, just an exciting, young group that they’ve got now. But obviously a lot of flexibility in the summer as well. Excited to kind of see how it plays out.

You’re going into free agency this offseason and you probably want to keep your options open when considering your future, but what is your expectation in terms of what might be next with Portland?

Joe Ingles: Like I said, it’s been a very, very good experience so far. Just talking to Renae, my wife, over the last few weeks about it, I almost feel like I owe Portland my best. They’ve bought in on me, obviously, being here now with everything off the court they’ve set up and helped with, head athletic trainer Jess (Cohen) coming to Chicago to do my surgery with me, make sure everything was good and spending a few days to make sure I got out. From top to bottom, I haven’t been around much, I’ve obviously been (in Salt Lake City) but I honestly feel like I’ve got to give them a chance. It would be very unfair of me, I think, for them to kind of buy in on me for now and then for me to walk away at the end of the year like ‘Thanks for getting my surgery and my PT sorted, I’m going to leave you here!’ Obviously there’s two ways to that, they’re going to have conversations.

My rehab this whole summer is going to be in Portland. If I can keep progressing and figuring it out -- again, this is new for me, this whole surgery and rehab -- so learning on the fly of where I’m supposed to be at two weeks post (surgery) or a month post, three months post. It’s a bit of a whirlwind these last few months, especially the last couple weeks, but like I said, really excited to be here and be able to see the guys tonight. I’ll head out to Portland for that homestretch of five or six games, whatever it is, at the end of March I think it is. So I’ll go out there then, spend some time with everybody in Portland, which I think will be good for me, I think it will be good for them. I obviously think like, if I was still on the other end a few doors down, I think regardless of if I’m playing, I think I could be an asset to help these young guys, especially now. Excited about the future, I haven’t been a free agent since my second year really. I think everyone knew I was always going to just keep re-signing (with the Jazz) as long as it was. Excited about what’s coming up.

How did the surgery go? What’s the status of your rehab?

Joe Ingles: Obviously don’t know much about (knee surgery), kind of learning on the fly, but surgery itself went really well. There was nothing unexpected or new or different that they went in and found, just the ACL obviously. So yeah, catching up, my doctor is actually here skiing at the moment so I’m seeing him Friday for my two-week checkup and on the 22nd or 23rd I’ll head to Portland and start rehab there as well. Meet the doctors and obviously help give me more guidance on where I’m at, hopefully get off those crutches soon. Just keep progressing more and more each day, which, so far two weeks in, we have.

When you were traded, you kind of knew, I think you got it that “I’m a contract instead of a player.” Do you still get it?

Joe Ingles: Yeah, you know me very well, I understand the business side of it, I understand the relationships. Eight years is a long time and I’ve built some pretty strong relationships here. And not even just (with the team), in the community, with my wife and what she does as well. It was always more than just basketball here for us, obviously with Jacob and all the stuff we went through with him and all the stuff we’ve done with the autism side of things as well. I think the longer it goes on and the more time you have to sit and think. Regardless of if I’m injured or not, I still think I could have been an asset down there to help these guys. Knowing Quin (Snyder), knowing the players, knowing what their goals are, I think I definitely could have still been important. I have mixed emotions about it, obviously. Obviously very grateful for seven and a half years or whatever it was because I was trying to get three years to get the pension and as long as I got that I was going to be good. Then I ended up after my third year signing a big deal...

The relationships, some of them, like Quin will always be someone I’m extremely close with. I don’t want to say he’s like a father figure because that’s a bit weird and Quin as a dad (laughs), I don’t need Quin to be my dad. But that’s the relationship we have, I could go to him with anything. Like the most vivid memories is like when Jacob got diagnosed and his support was something I’ll never forget. That was way bigger than any game we played or series we played in. Very mixed emotions. I still get mad and frustrated some days with it. I’m living like 10 minutes up the road so it’s annoying that I can’t go hang out -- I guess I can hang out with the guys -- go to the facility and do all that. It is what it is, like I said, I understand it. Do I necessarily agree with it or not? That could be up for debate... Just an interesting few months for me.