A new scenario opens on Damian Lillard’s horizon. The point guard, surrounded by rumors since the news broke about his transfer request – later denied by the player himself – could be heading towards an absence from the courts much longer than expected (about three or four games) to cause of your abdominal injury.
This is not a rumor, but information certified by his trainer, Chauncey Billups. The Blazers’ first decision has been for their star not to travel for the six-game road trip they now face. It is an initial step, but it may not be the last, in the face of a recovery that they hope will be full before putting Lillard back on the floor. Basically it is being considered that he takes a long time off to focus on his physique, thus leaving aside the playoff goal of the current course, which in any case is somewhat far …
“I think that will probably be the route we take if there is no relief in the area,” says the head coach of the Oregon organization when questioned about the option of seeing Lillard out of the fight for quite some time.
Against this background, Sean Highkin goes further and directly raises the possibility of not seeing Lillard again with the Blazers jersey this season. It sounds bad, since there are more than three months left in the regular season, but the truth is that it is an assessment full of logic.
To begin we have the qualifying situation of the team. They currently occupy 10th place in the Western Conference at 16-24, which leaves them in positions of play-in five games from sixth, a position that marks the limit of direct access to the playoffs. Lillard is not here to play, but they also have the doubt of when they will be able to count on CJ McCollum. Force his emblem to maybe get into the first round and fall to the Suns, Warriors or Jazz? It does not aim for success.
Then we have the contractual situation of the player. Lillard could sign a contract extension estimated at two years and $ 107 million this coming summer. According to the aforementioned journalist, the point guard would sign it if Joe Cronin, general manager interim, put it ahead. This is one more point in favor of sitting Lillard until the 2022-23 season, since it sounds much better to give that money for a player in full physical condition than for one who carries injuries.
Great weight supported
If the scenario aims to rest Lillard as the most logical decision for Portland, the work that has accumulated the point guard behind his back is no less. Questioned about his abdominal tendinopathy, the All-Star has admitted that it is something that has been bothering him for about three or four years. Your body has been able to say enough. What could previously be bearable now translates into the worst percentage of his career with 40.2% in shots from the field and 32.4% in triples. Everything indicates that you need to stop.
Like every NBA star, Lillard is the reference of his team, but in his case the truth is that his performance has depended so much on him that he has lived in constant overexertion. In the last 24 months Lillard did everything he could to get the Blazers into the playoffs in the bubble, then started a new season at Christmas, again requiring his continued participation with minutes to enter the playoffs and fall again in the first round. And from there he went to the Olympic Games, where the pain worsened.
Of course we always like to see the best playing, but in good condition. Perhaps the best thing for both parties is to take a sabbatical to see where they are and start again from there. Perhaps it is the right way to see Lillard spending his entire career in Portland and enjoying new battles defending in Rip City.
(Photograph by Soobum Im / Getty Images)