PORTLAND, Ore. -- Former longtime NBA coach George Karl continues to take jabs at players as his candid memoir, "Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs and Poor Shot Selection," gets set to hit bookstores.
Only this time, he's taking a jab at a player he never coached.
"I was watching the Portland Trail Blazers play, and I was trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with this team?" Karl asked. "My conclusion is that Damian Lillard is getting too much attention."
Lillard is one of the brightest and most visible young stars in the league. He has endorsement deals with Adidas, State Farm Insurance and JBL headphones, to name a few. He also is a hip-hop artist who recently dropped his first album, titled "The Letter O."
The 2016-17 campaign hasn't started off well for Lillard and his teammates. The Trail Blazers are currently an underwhelming 13-20 and sitting in the 10th spot in the Western Conference standings. Last season, they went 51-31 and exited in the second round of the playoffs.
Karl, in the interview, also suggested Lillard is to blame for the Blazers' early struggles, going so far as to say that the "team is not working."
"I think their coach, Terry Stotts, is a great coach," said Karl, whom Stotts has often credited as his coaching mentor. "So I'm going to say the problem is Lillard. They were a together, connected, committed team last year. This year, they're not. What changed?"
Lillard's agent, Aaron Goodwin, sent a statement to ESPN in defense of his client, which read: "That's silly. I have always loved and respected George, way back when he coached Gary Payton. But with that observation, he sounds like an idiot. He couldn't get anyone in this league to agree with him on that assessment. If it's either the coach or the point guard, the point guard runs the coaches plays. I guess that explains him becoming a writer ... "
Lillard had his own response, taking a subtle shot at Karl via Twitter:
Stotts played for Karl during his Continental Basketball Association days in Great Falls, Montana, and previously credited Karl with providing him a start on the NBA coaching ladder. Stotts spent more than a decade at Karl's side before becoming a head coach, including two years in the CBA with Karl and as an assistant under Karl for six years in Seattle with the SuperSonics and four with the? Milwaukee Bucks.