Blazers Star Damian Lillard Will NOT Return Remainder of NBA Season If Blazers Don’t Have ‘True Opportunity’ to Make Playoffs
Portland Trail Blazers’ star Damian Lillard, 29, along with several top NBA talent are looking forward to resuming their loss season due to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis in the near future. However, on Tuesday (May 26th), the 5-time NBA All-Star reportedly stated that he will not participate if the Blazers are not in the running of making a playoff run. He begins,
“If we come back and they’re just like, ‘We’re adding a few games to finish the regular season,’ and they’re throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don’t have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I’m going to be with my team because I’m a part of the team. But I’m not going to be participating. I’m telling you that right now. And you can put that in there.”
Lillard then clarifies his statement by saying he is willing to play in a tournament style for the last playoff position.
“If we come back and I don’t have an opportunity to make the playoffs, I will show up to work, I’ll be at practice and I’ll be with my team. I’m going to do all that and then I’m going to be sitting right on that bench during the games. If they come back and say it’s something like a tournament, play-in style, between the No. 7 and No. 12 seeds, if we’re playing for playoff spots, then I think that’s perfect.”
Lillard and his Portland Trail Blazers currently stand at 29-37 which is No. 9 spot in the Western Conference. Currently, the Blazers are 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff seed to face the top seeded Los Angeles Lakers. Lillard says a Lakers-Trail Blazers matchup would be the most anticipated series of the first round.
“I just feel like that would be the matchup people want to see. And not to say nobody wants to see Memphis, because they’re in the eighth and they’ve been in the eighth spot for a while. They’ve earned that. You can’t take anything away from Memphis. They play hard, they’re exciting and they’ve got a lot of young talent. The Lakers would have their hands full playing against them. Memphis beat the Lakers this year.
Memphis would have nothing to lose. I feel like both series could be a little bit hectic for the Lakers, but I think more so us, because of the experience and where we are in our careers. Not too long ago, we played them in L.A. and obviously I had a great game and we won a close one, and in the playoffs, I’m sure they would come up with some type of game plan to not allow that to happen. But I want to compete. That’s what we want.”
In their last match-up in January, Lillard and the Blazers defeated LeBron James and the Lakers 127-119, with the assistance from Lillards 48 point game. In addition, Lillard is the NBA’s fifth-leading scorer this season, averaging career highs of 28.9 points and 7.8 assists per game. The Blazers reopened their practice facility earlier this month for voluntary workouts.
Do you agree with Damian Lillard forgoing the season? Let us know in the comments!