Presti can draw inspiration from Damian Lillard and De’Aaron Fox in OKC Thunder rebuild

OKC Thunder: Blazers Damian Lillard, Kings De'Aaron Fox - the template (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder: Blazers Damian Lillard, Kings De'Aaron Fox - the template (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers waves goodbye to the OKC Thunder after hitting a last second 37 foot game winner to end Game 5 of 1R of playoffs (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

The other star who offers optimism for smaller markets is Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Writer Adam Caparell of Complex delivers an article on Lillard which offers arguably greater intrigue for small markets. Lillard told Caparell he has zero desire to play on a super team.

"“To leave, what did I invest all this time for just to leave, you know?” he says. “If I go play with three other stars, I don’t think that many people would doubt that I could win it. We would win it, but what is the challenge or the fun in that?”"

Moreover, Dame doubles down on why remaining in Portland is so important. Several times in the article Lillard refers to the city, not the franchise as being his driving factor. Lillard is still fresh in OKC Thunder fans minds given the wave goodbye after sealing the Blazers victory with a 3-point shot from oblivion. The irony of that shot resonates as the man he hit it on was none other than Paul George who requested a trade weeks later.

And yet, the comments of Lillard regarding his affinity for the city he lives in should give Sam Presti, Thunder ownership and the fan base optimism for the future.

"“I wanna be the one, the star that wants to be here,” says Lillard. “I wanna be the one that embodies all of those things and then be a part of the rise from ‘we haven’t won since ’77, and now we won, and Dame’s everything to our city.’”"

When Thunderous Intentions discusses player trades or draft prospects we often cite how important character is.

"Portland or bust. Either Damian Lillard gets it done where he wants, and on his terms, or he doesn’t. And he’s cool with that, even if haters will clown him for it. You don’t need to get on his level, but you should appreciate his loyalty to a city, to a community, to an ethos."

Lillard’s comments offer credence to this argument. It takes a different type of individual to not want to follow – but who is comfortable making choices and fulfilling a leadership role in a market outside of LA or New York.