Lillard Discusses Portland's Offseason, Fatherhood And Trades At His Annual Hoops Camp

by Casey Holdahl
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Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard took questions from the media Wednesday afternoon at his annual basketball camp at The Hoop in Beaverton.

During the interview, Lillard discussed his thoughts on Portland's offseason, his first summer as a father, how he's seen the kids at his camps change over the years, the trade sending DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio in exchange for Kawhi Leonard, what it would take to get another all-star player, the current roster, the play of the summer league team and his previous comments about his satisfaction with playing in Portland.

On fatherhood...

Damian Lillard: "It's been fun. Before he came, a lot of people was telling me how you feel about your own child, your first child and I figured it would be that way, but I had no idea what it would be like. Having your own, there's nothing like it. It's been a great experience. I'm looking forward to every day. It seems like he's growing a little bit more every day. Looking forward to the day when he can talk back to me and I can know what he's thinking about."

On the changes he's seen through the years at his basketball camp...

Damian Lillard: "I still feel the same way about it. I think it means more now because now, this being our fifth year, so many kids come first week and second week and you start to remember the kids' names. You see them when they six years old and now they 11 years old, they a little taller, a little more mature. For me it's just fun to see that maturity in them, to see the growth. That's what I enjoy the most and when they come here, they not calling me "Damian Lillard," they say "Dame" and when they see me they not shocked because they're regular attendants. I think that's the best part, building that relationship with the kids and seeing them grow, that way I feel like my words go further with them because they kind of know me. They've been here so I have their ear and I think that's the most important thing is being able to get that message across along with what you can teach them in camp."

On the Raptors trading DeMar DeRozan...

Damian Lillard: "It's disappointing. DeMar is a friend of mine and I know how he felt about being in Toronto, had been there his whole career. I think he's the all-time leading scorer for the Raptors and they had some great players come through there. But they've also had great players come through there and leave. He had that same opportunity, but he stayed. You understand that it's a business but that's just an unfortunate situation. I never saw that coming, especially for somebody like him and what he meant to that city, let alone the team."

His thoughts on the roster going into the 2018-19 season...

Damian Lillard: "We lost some guys that played great minutes for us. Like I said in Vegas, Ed (Davis) gave us great minutes all season long, a vet. Same thing with Pat (Connaughton), same thing with Bazz (Napier). We came into the offseason saying we want to get better, we want to take steps forward, go after some vets and we tried, I guess, we tried to get guys to come here in free agency. I'm pretty sure we tried everything that we could to try and improve the team. We made the moves that we made and, like I said, for me, I've just got to go out there and do what I do. It's really nothing I can do about it, it's out of my control. What I can control is how I improve and how I come into next season and how I lead the charge. So we'll see."

On the play of Portland's championship-winning summer league team...

Damian Lillard: "It was actually impressive. You've got a guy who went to school one year (Gary Trent Jr.) and then another young guys that basically came out of high school (Anfernee Simons). Both teenagers and they came out and they played efficient. It was impressive, they weren't scared. Our team also had a lot of NBA experience, a lot of the guys that was on our roster have played in actual NBA games. So when I watched camp I figured that they would be pretty good during summer league but I didn't know they'd just go out there and sweep it, just run through it. But I think because of the rookies and how Biggie (Swanigan) played, I thought Wade (Baldwin IV) played really well, Zach (Collins) did a great job protecting the paint, he played really well defensively, John Jenkins, they had a lot of guys that contributed and that was consistent. I figured they would be one of the best teams but I didn't know they'd do what they did, but it was impressive."

On being in Portland...

Damian Lillard: "I've been here, I got drafted here. I'm a leader here, not just on the court but in the community. There's a lot of impact as far as who I'm in touch with, the people I'm in touch with, so that means something to me. It's a deeper connection that just playing for the Trail Blazers. We've had success, I've had success individually and we have as a team. I feel like this league is a competitive league and I don't want to just jump ship or look for another easy way out. I'm here to compete and take the challenge, so it is what it is. I'm not upset with my situation."