Damian Lillard is feeling positive after successful surgery to repair an abdominal injury but that does not mean he’ll be returning to the Portland Trail Blazers lineup soon. Lillard held a press conference for Portland media today in which he addressed his health following a January 13th operation for an injury to his core that has been plaguing him for several seasons.
Per multiple sources, including Bleacher Report’s Sean Highkin, Lillard told media he was feeling good and that all signs are positive at this point. That does not mean a return is imminent. Highkin paraphrases Lillard, saying his return depends on Portland’s position. Highkin also suggests that Lillard “seemed open” to sitting out the season if the Blazers are not in position to make the playoffs and/or if the plan is to play for a lottery pick.
The Blazers owe a protected first-round pick in 2022 to the Chicago Bulls, a legacy of the trade that brought the franchise Larry Nance, Jr. If Portland makes the playoffs, that pick will transfer to Chicago. If the Blazers miss the post-season, they would retain the pick and participate in the 2022 NBA Lottery.
Lillard has averaged 24.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 7.3 assists for the Blazers so far in 29 appearances this season. He missed 6 of Portland’s first 35 games before going on the inactive list for good at the start of January.
Orlando Sanchez from KGW Sports is adding video and quotes to the story.
"It's crazy, but I don't even remember"— Orlando Sanchez (@orlandokgw) January 22, 2022
Damian Lillard on dealing with his abdominal injury for the past few years
"Surgeon, therapist, yoga instructors that I've been working with telling me, every step we're making are all good signs of me moving in right direction"#RipCity pic.twitter.com/MDr114cF2Q
"My number one goal is to win a championship and I need to be in the best form of myself to make that happen."@dame_lillard speaks to the media for the first time since his surgery: https://t.co/38jA6Xl9yx pic.twitter.com/wSizFKh857— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) January 22, 2022
More from the interview opportunity...
On looking forward to family time:
Milwaukee Bucks guard and fellow Olympian Jrue Holiday helped Dame narrow down the problem:
"He was pretty much the first person to confirm I needed surgery"— Orlando Sanchez (@orlandokgw) January 22, 2022
Damian Lillard said @Jrue_Holiday11 was telling him at the Olympics he needed surgery. He said he's been talking to Packers @rcobb18 about it.@Dame_Lillard said he walked out of hospital on his own after surgery pic.twitter.com/76TJYKi122
Clarifying his stance on a return this year:
Damian Lillard on whether he would try to return if it was clear Blazers were out of playoff hunt: "I mean, if we’re going to play for a draft pick, it wouldn’t make sense for me to [play]. Because I’m not gonna play for no draft pick. I’m just not capable of that.”— Sean Highkin (@highkin) January 22, 2022