The Portland Trailblazers lost a renowned member of the team when LaMarcus Aldridge opted out. With nine years of experience with the same basketball squad, the NBA veteran decided to seek his chances outside Portland. Throughout the NBA offseason, Aldridge had choice pickings offered to him by the likes of the New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers. At the end of the day, though, the San Antonio Spurs emerged victorious in the bidding.
Hence, Aldridge now functions as one of the core members of the Gregg Popovich squad. Moreover, the former Portland Trailblazers star is included in the next Big Three of the San Antonio Spurs. That is, Aldridge is expected to replace one the leadership slots vacated by Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Along with Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, Aldridge is expected to lead the squad long after the older Big Three retire.
While Aldridge continues to impress with his stint in the San Antonio Spurs, a former teammate remains resolute in his desire to stay with the Portland Trailblazers. Damian Lillard, who has been with the said team since 2012, announced his intention to stay until the end of his NBA career.
"I mean, it's always good to be the first one to do something; especially being a part of an organization that I plan on being a part of for my entire career, so it's an honor, but I would have liked for it to be in a winning effort," Lillard commented on the 40 points he achieved in their match against the Golden State Warriors, according to Comcast Sportsnet.
While the Portland Trailblazers currently ranks tenth in the Western Conference, Lillard is adamant over his resolve to stay with his team. According to the point guard, the challenges they face are simply part of the game. Hence, he does not intend to abandon the Portland Trailblazers to be with other teams perceived to have higher chances of bringing home a championship.
Lillard said, "Things get tough. It's a tough league. You have ups and downs. We flipped our roster, man. We completely flipped and got a brand new team. And I signed up to be a part of it. To be a part of the growth. I have to grow just as much as our team has to grow, and I'm excited about that, that's why it's not hard for me to say that's what I want."
These sentiments are contradictory to those expressed by Aldridge. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers feel a bit abandoned by their former teammate. This showed earlier in the NBA season when the San Antonio Spurs visited Portland for a match.
"I want to beat him, I want to beat that team," said Lillard of Aldridge and the San Antonio Spurs, according to Oregon Live. He added, "He wanted to go somewhere where he could win a championship. He did that. Now they're coming to us. I want to beat them. That's just the competitor in me."