“Whatever I have to say, I will say it directly to [Blazers general manager] Daniel [Olshey] and I’m going to speak directly to my team about it, ”said Lillard after day three of Team USA’s training camp in Las Vegas. “I really have nothing more to say about this.
Reports last month revealed that the Blazers’ coach search that led to the hiring of Chauncey Billups and the failure to build a roster of championship contenders could lead Lillard to request a trade. Lillard stopped before denying these reports, saying only that he had not made any of these feelings public.
“There’s a lot that is said and sometimes words are put in my mouth and I haven’t said anything,” said Lillard. “If there’s something to say or if I think something or if I have something to say, I’m going to say it and I’m going to stick to it. “
The Blazers suffered backlash following the hiring of Billups after details of a 1997 rape allegation surfaced the week before his appointment as head coach. Lillard also received criticism on social media for publicly supporting the former Finals MVP during the search process.
Lillard said he was unaware of the allegation when he offered Billups approval. No criminal charges were laid in the case, but Billups settled a civil lawsuit filed by the woman.
Lillard said Thursday that he supported the hiring, but added that the process of making and validating the decision was done by the team.
“I was asked about the names that had been launched there. I said i love [Jason] Kidd, I love Chauncey. At that time I had no idea [the allegation] Said Lillard. “When I found out and the process continued, I never felt like it was my job or my duty to say ‘do this or don’t do that’. I do my job, I improve my game and I present myself as the leader of the team. In the past, I have never stepped on anyone’s feet, asked for anything, or told anyone what to do and it was no different in this situation. That’s all I can really say.
“Our organization, they said they had done a thorough investigation, they went through everything. They went through the process of hiring a coach. “
Lillard said he had known Billups for years and knew he had long been considered a good candidate to become a coach or general manager.
“I had a previous relationship with Chauncey on a friendship level as someone who was very successful in my position and who was a champion,” said Lillard. “With us leaving [former Blazers head coach] Terry [Stotts] after nine years our organization was determined to find a male leader, someone the players would respect. ”