Blazers Analyst: Lillard's Comments "Held A Lot Of Weight"

Damian Lillard may have had a significant impact on the NBA's restart plan

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
June 15, 2020 - 9:06 am
Damian Lillard Trail Blazers Nuggets Game 7

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The NBA plans to finish the 2019-20 season with 22 teams in Orlando. While many players are reportedly unhappy that they will be confined to a “bubble” for a prolonged period of time, it seems Adam Silver devised a system that is fair for all.

“I like that there are more teams involved,” Blazers play-by-play voice Travis Demers said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “The fact that you have more teams that are in position to make the playoffs or make a run at this point, I like that because you just never would have known [how the regular season would have ended]. It gives more teams something to play for, and anytime that you can give more teams a reason to show up and play hard every night, I think that’s a good thing.”

Damian Lillard may have had something to do with that. In May, the Blazers star said he would not return if Portland (29-37) didn’t have a “true opportunity” to make the playoffs, which might have convinced the NBA to allow more teams to return to action. Thirteen of the 22 returning teams, it is worth noting, come from the Western Conference.

“I think it held a lot of weight,” Demers said of Lillard’s comments. “Guys like Damian Lillard, the players who have a big voice, a big name in the NBA, what they say matters. It matters to fans, it matters to owners, it matters to the board of governors, it matters to Commissioner Silver. So when he speaks up and says, ‘Look, if I’m going to come down there for four games and we don’t have an opportunity to move beyond those four games and play in the postseason, why am I here?’ – [that matters].”

The Warriors expressed a similar sentiment. At 15-50, the Warriors have nothing to play for and are reportedly “ecstatic” that they don’t have to go to Orlando.

“It’s different than at the end of the season where if a team is eliminated from the playoffs they’re still playing,” Demers said. “There’s not a four-month break and then a month lead-up to play four games. So I think those comments held a lot of weight and really went a long way in determining we’re not just going to have 16 teams show up. The more games that are played, the more the NBA can recoup some of the financial losses, especially when you have guys like Damian Lillard and Zion Williamson who wouldn’t have been in the postseason. It’s just a better opportunity for everybody because more teams have a chance, the league is able to get some more dollars – I think it benefits everybody.”