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Lillard draws raves for summer league play

The Sports Xchange

--The Trail Blazers have made a plethora of moves since Neil Olshey took over as general manager on June 5, none more important than taking Damian Lillard with the sixth pick in the draft.

Lillard, a 6-3, 195-pound point guard out of Weber State, stole the show at the Las Vegas Summer League with his sterling play, averaging 26.5 points and sharing league most valuable player honors with Memphis guard Josh Selby. Lillard is expected to step right in and start for the Blazers next season.

Portland has had summer league MVPs before. Qyntell Woods and Jerryd Bayless come to mind, and neither panned out with the Blazers. But Lillard is close to a can't-miss prospect, according to those around the league.

"Lillard is going to be terrific," Cleveland coach Byron Scott said.

"He has a very bright future ahead of him," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He has a chance to be special."

"He plays the pro game -- great speed, no hurry, knows how to play," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "He can shoot the ball, he can score when he wants to, but he also knows how to run a team. That's nice."

--The Blazers matched Minnesota's offer sheet and signed restricted free agent F Nicolas Batum to a contract reportedly worth $45 million over four years.

"What matters is, Nicolas accepts responsibility that he is going to be held to a higher standard now," GM Neil Olshey said. "He is in a leadership position. He is one of the higher-paid players in the league at his position. I know he wants to embrace that and have a bigger role on the team on a daily basis.

"When a new coach is hired and a new system is in, he'll have more opportunity to live up to his contractual obligations based on the responsibilities he'll take within our roster composition."

"Who says we have to wait? Damian is good, Meyers (Leonard) is good, I'm getting better, we have Nic and Wes (Matthews). Anything is possible. OKC showed that." -- LaMarcus Aldridge, on Portland's chances with such a young team next season.

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