Lillard has 'respect' for new Blazer Hood
Damian Lillard is quite familar with the Trail Blazers' latest acquisition, Rodney Hood.
Cleveland traded the 6-8 swing man to Portland on Sunday in a deal that sent guards Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin, along with a pair of second-round draft picks, to the Cavaliers.
Hood, 26, has started all season for Cleveland, averaging 12.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 27.4 minutes per game. He is shooting .427 from the field, .362 from 3-point range and .912 from the free-throw line.
In his fifth NBA season, Hood holds career averages of 12.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists while shooting .420 from the field, .368 from 3-point range and .843 from the line.
The former Duke standout spent his first 3 1/2 seasons with Utah, and he worked closely with Jazz assistant coach Johnnie Bryant. Bryant, 33, is an Oakland, California, native, as is Lillard, and the two have worked together in the past. Both played collegiately in Utah — Bryant at the University of Utah, Lillard at Weber State.
"Johnny and I go way back," Lillard says. "When I was in middle school playing AAU ball, the guy I trained with had also worked with Johnny. We would scrimmage against him. He was the one who made me comfortable about going to Weber State. He was like, '(the state of) Utah is cool; you're going to like it.' "
Lillard said he would periodically speak via phone with Bryant, who would occasionally give him reports on Jazz players, including Hood. Lillard said he has gotten to know Hood "a little" playing against him over the past five years.
"I respect him," Lillard says. "I remember him when he was in Utah, and he always came in and gave (the Jazz) a spark. He's a good-sized wing who can score, shoot the ball, solid defender — it will be interesting to see how he will fit in with us."
Hood came off the bench for much of his rookie season and during his last season and a half with the Jazz. He was a starter for 134 of the 138 games in which he played, though, during the 2016-16 and 2016-17 campaigns.