SEATTLE, WA – When the LA Clippers landed Norman Powell and Robert Covington at the 2022 NBA trade deadline, many were caught off guard. The Portland Trail Blazers parted with a handful of weapons for Damian Lillard, and with Powell as well as Covington headed to Los Angeles, the Clippers were able to bolster their roster around Kawhi Leonard whenever he was able to return.
Monday night’s exhibition game between the Clippers and Trail Blazers may be a pre-season matchup, but it’s an important one. Leonard and Lillard will both return from extended absences due to injury while the game will be played inside Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena. It’ll be only the second game between NBA teams in the city of Seattle since 2008.
Kawhi Leonard is expected to suit up and play, ending a 15 month absence due to a torn ACL. Meanwhile, Damian Lillard will be making his return from an extended absence due to an abdominal injury that shut him down last year after just 29 games.
Having played with both Powell and Covington, Lillard has a good understanding of what the duo brings to the table on both ends of the court. That’s why he sees both Powell and Covington fitting in seamlessly with the Clippers.
“My experience with them was good,” Damian Lillard told ClutchPoints at Blazers morning shoot-around. “Obviously, I form a relationship with all my teammates and it was the same with Norm and RoCo.”
Lillard and Covington played 91 regular season games and six playoff games together following Covington’s trade from the Houston Rockets.
“RoCo is a professional. He shows up, he’s gonna do what he does all the time and just a positive person to have in the locker room.”
Lillard and Powell played 49 regular season games and six playoff games together following Powell’s trade from the NBA Champion Toronto Raptors.
“Norm, coming off a championship team and coming to our team. He’s super competitive, an underdog, worked hard for everything that he’s had in this league and turned himself into the player that he’s turned himself into.”
The Clippers have Norman Powell locked into a deal for the next four years and quickly agreed to a contract extension with Robert Covington before the start of free agency.
Now with Kawhi Leonard’s return, the Clippers can go 12-deep on their bench and not have to worry about giving up scoring, defense, or experience.
“I think they’ll both do well for the Clippers, especially with the personnel that they had before,” Lillard continued. “Getting a guard and a wing with that type of experience and that type of ability, I think they’ll do well for the Clippers. Super, super complimentary pieces for what they already have.”
Friday’s preseason opener saw the Clippers resting their veterans and defeating Maccabi Ra’anana handily. The Clippers-Blazers matchup is expected to feature both teams at full strength in what should be a show for the NBA fans in Seattle.
Damian Lillard was 18 years of age when the Seattle Supersonics relocated to Oklahoma City, so his memories of Sonics games weren’t profound by any stretch. However, it was Sonics legend Gary Payton that kept him engaged with the team.
“My only real connection to the Sonics is the fact that Gary Payton played there and he’s from Oakland,” Lillard said. “Just because he was from Oakland, I think you always wanna stay tapped in and stay in touch with people connected to your environment and that’s what it was. Knowing that, I was always a Warriors fan and always knowing what was going on with the Sonics for that reason.”
Monday’s game will tip off at 7:30PM PST and air on KTLA.