Portland Trail Blazers

Norman Powell: Trail Blazers guard opens up on final days with Toronto Raptors and Portland's title aspirations

Norman Powell is the newest member of the Portland Trail Blazers, but he'll always have roots in Toronto.

MORE: Powell pens emotional goodbye to Toronto

Case in point: The Trail Blazers guard took the time out on Tuesday evening to talk to the OverDrive crew on Toronto's TSN 1050, where he spoke on his first game back against his former team, his final days as a Raptor and the championship pedigree that he hopes to bring to the Blazers franchise.

After being traded to the Blazers last Thursday, Powell went from Tampa to Orlando to make his debut with his new team on Friday before returning to Tampa to face the Raptors in a return game on Sunday. In the third frame of his return, Powell followed a breakaway dunk with a stare down of his former teammates and coaches.

He shared that it was all in good fun, saying "it was just a little get back. Having a little fun with the guys. Nothing too serious, nothing too crazy. I know we took the lead with that play, so you know, just wanted to let them know what's up."

Getting through that game effectively ended what was understandably a whirlwind of a week for the 27-year-old.

As the deadline neared, Powell's name began circulating among the trade rumour mill but, according to the six-year veteran, the rumours weren't the product of a formal request from him or his representation.

"I would have been happy to have been a Raptor if I wasn't traded," Powell said. "I wasn't looking to be traded or anything like that. I've always been super committed and focused on what the franchise wanted from me and always trying to improve, always trying to help the team win and get better in every way I could every season.

"I'm a very loyal person, so I was fully committed but I also understand it's a business and putting emotion and feelings aside for everything that Toronto has meant."

While the writing on the wall made it clear that a trade was imminent, Powell maintained that the vibes in Toronto's locker room were far from awkward, adding that it was the franchise fulfilling an obligation to hear out league-wide interest rather than actively shopping him.

"I don't think it was awkward at all, Powell continued. "My agent kept me well-informed. What was being communicated to me was that the Raptors weren't shopping me or looking to trade me, it was just a bunch of interest coming from different teams. …

"Contractually, the team has to always - every year - see how they can get better and improve in what direction they want to take the franchise, which I can't speak too much on because I'm not in those meetings but it's just the interest that was surrounding me."

While the basketball world learned of his trade via a Tweet notification from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski at 12:46 p.m., Powell shared that the moment he learned about the trade was a bit more complicated.

"Fred (VanVleet) had texted me, like literally just before everything had broken and went on and he asked me, 'What's the word? Have you heard anything?' and literally, I kid you not, I texted him back 'Nah, I haven't heard anything,'" Powell recalled.

"And my agent had called me and he was letting me know that there's no movement but he named a couple of teams that had come up … While we were on the phone, (Raptors general manager) Bobby Webster had called him and my trainer walked up to the room and told me Portland. So, the news must have broken while I was on the phone with my agent and Bobby was calling to tell him, so that's how I found out."

Powell is now with a Trail Blazers team that is within three games of a top-three seed in the Western Conference and has title aspirations after advancing to the Western Conference Finals just two seasons ago. Powell, who won the first title of his career two seasons ago, spoke on how his championship experience can be of benefit to this franchise.

"I think it's very beneficial, they're not shy about it," Powell said of Portland's title hopes. "We've had those conversations about winning a championship and what it would take. We've had those conversations here and there and the runs and how we're able to make it happen. I definitely want to put that imprint on it, especially on the defensive end, that's what it's going to take to win a championship…"

"I think we have all the pieces. This team is well put together," he added. "We have offence but it's going to be on the defensive end, so I think I can definitely instill that pedigree of what it's going to take to win a championship on that side of the ball as well."

Powell and the Trail Blazers close out a four-game trip on Wednesday as they meet the Detroit Pistons before returning to Portland, where Powell will make his Moda Center debut as a Blazer against a title contender in the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.

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