Northwest Notes: Lillard, Deck, Mitchell, SGA

Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard hopes to eventually lead the team that drafted him to a title, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. In an interesting bit of trivia, Quick adds that Lillard has gone above and beyond in researching what it takes to do this. He has spoken with championship-winning players (including his new teammate Norman Powell, who won with the Raptors in 2019) and coaches with the goal of integrating their wisdom into his title quest.

“I want that more than anything,” Lillard said of winning a title for the Trail Blazers. “Not just to say I won a championship. But I want to do it in this city. I want to have a parade on Broadway and ride past El Gaucho (steakhouse). That’s what I think of. Every time the playoffs is starting, I’m going into it like, ‘Is this going to be the year that we shock the world or that we come up big?”’

“I mean, I see every year when we get to this point as pivotal,” Lillard told Quick. “Because at every point, it’s an evaluation: Where do we go from here? Like, can we get the job done as we are? And if not, where do we go from here? What is the change that needs to be made?” Lillard continued, “And I don’t know where that change comes from, you know, maybe we … I don’t know if it’s moving players, I don’t know if it’s a coaching change … whatever it is that happens in the NBA, the changes that are made when you look at the postseason and what you consider success and failure, and things like that, and what changes you have to make to improve or give yourself a better chance.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Recently-added Thunder rookie power forward Gabriel Deck hopes to represent Team Argentina in this summer’s rescheduled Olympics, but will remain in Oklahoma City for the next few weeks, tweets Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman.
  • The top-seeded Jazz will face the Western Conference’s yet-to-be-determined eighth seed when they begin their postseason this weekend, but the health of All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell remains in question, writes  – Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune. Mitchell has been unable to play through a full team practice since spraining his ankle in a 119-111 defeat of the Pacers on April 16. “Whenever he’s healthy, we’ll have him back,” Mitchell’s teammate Joe Ingles said, delivering an expert non-answer.
  • As Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to recover from a foot injury, he is holding out hope that he will be healthy enough to suit up for the Canadian national team in this year’s Olympic qualifiers this summer, tweets Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman.