Damian Lillard says players recruiting one another is far more powerful than anything a team could present during a free agency pitch meeting.
Lillard adds that friendships among competitors has led to the current era of so-called player empowerement.
Dame, however, inked a four-year, $196 million contract extension with the Blazers, and is determined on his own terms in Portland.
“It’s become huge,” Lillard said during a news conference Saturday to announce his four-year, $196 million extension. “Because sometimes the coaches and the front offices, they don’t have as much power as the players. The players are so friendly now. I think in the past it was like [Michael] Jordan probably didn’t go out searching and trying to get guys to come join him. It was like they were competing against each other.
“Now it’s, ‘Well, they got three stars on their team, so I know this guy and that guy, I’m going to try to get them to come to my team.’ So I think you see [recruiting] a lot more now where it’s just players recruiting players is more powerful than the pitch meeting with the team. That’s just what it is now, so it’s a huge part of the game now.”
For Lillard, the opportunity to win a title in Portland has more allure than trying to win in a different community as a complementary piece around a different set of players.
“I’ve said also in the past that I want to do it here,” Lillard said. “They haven’t won a championship since ’77, the one and only, and it would just feel so much better to know that I just kept it solid and I did the work.
Lillard added: “In the end, I know that if it gets done, it will feel much better to know that I did it in a solid way. I didn’t have to go and play with the best players just to get it done. For me, this is the way I want to do it. And I know that if it don’t happen I can live with it because I know the route that I chose. I accepted it a long time ago.”