Back when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined up with Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat, the discussion of whether or not it’s acceptable to join a Big Three, recruit stars to come play with you, or be on these supposed super-teams was the hot question for young players in the NBA. Derrick Rose was asked about it right before he and the Chicago Bulls blew up in the 2010-11 season (his MVP season), and he basically said that this kind of decision wasn’t for him and he wanted to do it on his own.
Fast-forward six years and Kevin Durant has joined the 73-win Golden State Warriors. So once again, it’s time to ask a young, awesome point guard whether or not he’d consider doing something different than his current situation. Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard was on SiriusXM NBA Radio and was asked about the idea of stars joining up on the same team. As you can imagine, Lillard doesn’t have a problem with guys doing this, but it’s not the avenue for him. He’d rather try to “take a monster down.” From HoopsHype:
“If somebody wants to go join people and do that, it’s not against the rules. They can do it. It’s just more pressure to win when you do it. Some people say, ‘Oh, they had to do that to win it’ but we play the game to win it. So when people do it, that’s their decision. I wouldn’t do it. That’s just not who I am. I might have too much pride for that or be too much of a competitor where I couldn’t bring myself to do it, but it also makes it more fun. You get to take a monster down and that’s always fun.”
This is both 1) how he really feels and 2) PR 101 with this kind of a thing. You’re unlikely to come out and talk about how wrong it is as a current player because that can create a distraction for your team when you face said super-team. The Blazers play the Warriors once at the end of the preseason and four times in the regular season. There’s also the chance that they could play them for the second straight year in the playoffs, after losing to them in five games in the second-round of the 2016 postseason.
Lillard is smart enough to know that while he and the Blazers are very confident they can make it difficult for the Warriors, there isn’t much of a win in stoking the fire ahead of time. You want to avoid that bulletin board material as much as possible. So far, Lillard has stayed loyal to Portland too, as most young stars do off that rookie contract. In the summer of 2015, Lillard signed a five-year, $120 million contract extension with the Blazers. Assuming he doesn’t get traded (and why would he be?) before that contract is up, that commits him to Portland for the first nine years of his career.
At that point when he becomes a free agent in 2021, Lillard may have changed his mind. Maybe during that time, he’ll have helped another star join him and CJ McCollum in Portland — should the opportunity present itself. Or maybe Lillard will decide at 31 years old it’s time to move on to a different situation. We’ve seen it happen a lot with players you’d rarely suspect to leave. Or maybe Lillard will still believe the super-team isn’t for him and he’ll continue trying to slay monsters if he doesn’t have any titles by that point.
Regardless, this situation will continue happening in the NBA. Big Three’s or super-teams will form. Young players will be asked about it. Young players will deny it’s the type of situation they’d like. Some of that will change in the future (it did with Kevin Durant) and some of it will remain their modus operandi.
Courtesy: CBS Sports