Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard said he is focusing on basketball amid the team’s investigation into president of basketball operations Neil Olshey, as relayed by Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“The games continue. Our jobs continue. And that’s all we can do,” Lillard said after the Blazers routed the visiting Lakers on Saturday. “What we can control is doing our job and being prepared, and me being here for 10 years 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 announced that they’ve hired a outside law firm, O’Melveny & Myers, to “conduct a full, fair and independent review” into reported “concerns about [the] workplace environment” allegedly created by Olshey.
“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.”
Lillard, center Jusuf Nurkic and coach Chauncey Billups all indicated they were unaware of any of the alleged concerns involving Olshey.
“It was news to me,” Lillard said. “I came across it just as everybody else did. But that’s all I know of it, that it’s an investigation.”
Meanwhile, Nurkic said he only heard about it after the team released a statement, and Billups said he and Olshey generally keep their conversations to basketball.
“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.”
Billups did admit the Olshey news can be a bit distracting.
“You know, it’s a distraction because there’s so much talk about it, obviously,” 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.”
Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony, whose career was revived after signing with Olshey’s Blazers in 2019, said he too was unaware of the accusations.
“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.”
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