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NBA

Blazers' Damian Lillard is focused as investigation looms

The Blazers star faced a number of questions about a pending investigation into the workplace environment but remains centered on doing his job.

Update:
Blazers' Damian Lillard is focused as investigation looms
AFP

The Blazers pointguard is keeping his mind focused on the job at hand as his team begins an investigation into the work place environment.

Damian Lillard is focused on what he can control

It's been an eventful time for Damian Lillard recently. From speculation about a possible trade request to critique of the hiring of his new coach, the Trail Blazers star has had his share of questions to answer. Yet as the Blazers prepare to open an investigation into president of basketball operations Neil Olshey, Lillard believes his duty remains the same.

"The games continue. Our jobs continue. And that's all we can do," Lillard said post game on Saturday. In a game where he scored a game-high 25 points, the Blazers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 105-90. "That's what we can control is doing our job and being prepared, and me being here for 10 years now and being a big part of this organization and this team, it's my job to continue to do that the way that I have. And that's what I can control and that's what I'll do."

The Blazers set to investigate Olshey

On Saturday the Trail Blazers announced that they had retained an independent law firm, O'Melveny & Myers, to "conduct a full, fair and independent review" into alleged "concerns about [the] workplace environment" caused by Olshey. Olshey was hired by the Trail Blazers in June 2012 and charged with running the front office after serving as the LA Clippers' general manager for parts of two seasons. Incidentally, just a few weeks later he orchestrated Portland's selection of Lillard as the No. 6 pick overall. Speaking on the situation Lillard was clear about where his priorities lie. "I think the best way to lead is to focus on leading the team," Lillard said. "We play basketball, and my job is to be the point guard and the captain of this team. And to continue to do that."

Blazers' players and coaches face questions

Post game on Saturday, the Olshey situation was a focal point as Lillard, coach Chauncey Billups and teammate Jusuf Nurkic all faced questions about the investigation. "It was news to me," Lillard said at the time. "I came across it just as everybody else did. But that's all I know of it, that it's an investigation." Teammate Nurkic echoed the sentiment saying, "All I know is what everybody knows from the statement from the team. And I have [nothing] specific to add." Nurkic, was also asked about his relationship with Oshley, who orchestrated his acquisition in 2017. "As far as our relationship, I don't think we have a relationship," Nurkic said. "We're being pros, and that's what I'm looking for."

For more from the NBA

Coach Billups also fielded questions at the time and disclosed that he had not spoken with Olshey about the investigation adding that any conversation they did have was strictly game-related. Interestingly Olshey previously defended Billups in the past when the latter faced rape allegations. "I mean obviously it's unfortunate," Billups said. "An unfortunate time. Obviously all I know is what everybody read, what everybody else knows from what they read about the report and the investigation. That's all I know. There's nothing else that I can really say more about that."

Lakers' Carmelo Anthony also questioned

Speaking after his team's loss to the Blazers, Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony faced questions about the investigation into Olshey. Anthony who was signed by the Blazers under Olshey's watch saw his career revived during his time there having been out of the NBA for more than a year. "You just broke that news to me," Anthony said. "I have no idea about that. Yeah, you broke that to me, honestly. I have no idea what's even going on with that."

The Trail Blazers roll on

With the win on Saturday, Portland moved to a 5-5 and in the process leapfrogged the Lakers to hold onto the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference standings. "You know, it's a distraction because there's so much talk about it, obviously," coach Billups said. "But I can honestly say when I'm in that office and with the guys, I don't think about that at all. Not even for a little bit. I'm focused on the game."

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