While it seems more and more likely that Carmelo Anthony will begin the upcoming season as a member of the New York Knicks, Damian Lillard isn’t writing off his Portland Trail Blazers.
As he indicated at his yearly Oakland picnic on Monday, Lillard is still optimistic about the possibility of Melo joining his team.
“I didn’t want to press him,” Lillard told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “I ain’t a big fan of doing all the extra recruiting and all that stuff. And I guess they call it tampering or whatever. It’s not against the rules for us to interact with each other. We all peers, we all play in the same league and everybody hints at playing with each other. ‘What you think about this?’ ‘What do you think about that?’ All that matters is whether it got done or did not get done. Or hasn’t got done, and it hasn’t got done. So, it is what it is …”
He continued, “I’m not giving up on anything. I just think I’ve done what I can do. And camp is a few weeks away. And you have to focus on getting ready with who we are, plan on going in as we are. Whatever changes, the front office will be the ones making that change, with the Knicks and our front office or whatever. But I get my mind focused on what I can control at a certain point.”
Back in late July, Lillard couldn’t hide his excitement about the possibility of landing Melo after the Blazers were rumored to be a possible trade partner with the Knicks.
“I can only imagine what it would be like having him iso’ing on one side, and C.J. in a corner, and me on the opposite wing and Nurk (Jusuf Nurkic)…I can only imagine how hard it would be to guard us when it’s already hard to guard us,” he told Joe Freeman of The Oregonian.
He added, “We can compete with anybody in the West, but I think when you get to those teams like Golden State, if we happen to run into them in a playoff situation now—we getting in the paint, and if they want to help off someone like Melo…good luck.”
At that time, Lillard also admitted that he contacted the Knicks star in the hopes of proving that Portland is the best place for him.
"I spoke to him," Lillard said. "Because, obviously, he makes us a better team. Obviously with that being out there and that being a real possibility, I don't see why I wouldn't reach out to him and let him know the interest is mutual if he's interested in us. We had a conversation ... so he knew that it wasn't just the team -- but it was myself and CJ -- (that) would love to have him here. So I reached out to him.”
If Anthony is somehow dealt to the Blazers, he’d presumably join Lillard, McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic in what would be one of the most offensively-dynamic starting fives in the loaded Western Conference.