Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard open to both return and tanking

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports /

For the first time since undergoing surgery to repair his abdominal tendinopathy, Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard addressed the media earlier today. Per Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report, Lillard is feeling well post-operation and his doctors have only had positive things to say about the procedure and his recovery thus far.

The average timetable for Dame’s situation is six-eight weeks. Of course, Lillard’s circumstance may lead to a potentially longer rehabilitation period — not due to necessity, but rather from opportunity.

With the Portland Trail Blazers struggling heavily in the early season, Dame and CJ McCollum missing time due to injuries, and their 2022 first-round pick bound to the Chicago Bulls if it lands outside of the lottery, it made a lot of sense for Dame to shut it down for the season and the Blazers to induce a full-on tank.

Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images) /

Damian Lillard open to returning to the Portland Trail Blazers but also understands the benefits of tanking for better lottery odds

In his media availability, Lillard expressed that he’s willing to return to play but his timetable would ultimately be decided by the Trail Blazers’ record when he’s healthy again.

Following Dame’s surgery, with an impending six-game road trip and McCollum still out, it appeared that Portland would take a freefall in the standings whether they wanted to or not.

Surprisingly, Anfernee Simons, Jusuf Nurkic, and Robert Covington have elevated their play and led Portland to a 3-2 record so far in their voyage away from the Moda Center.

The Trail Blazers are holding the 10th-seed and building a lead on the Minnesota Timberwolves behind them. With less than half of the season left to play, Portland has the third-easiest remaining schedule according to Tankathon.

If Interim General Manager Joe Cronin does intend to tank, he’ll need to act quickly to get rid of the veterans that are making it difficult for the Portland Trail Blazers to purposefully lose games. The good news is CJ, Nurk, and RoCo are doing fantastic jobs reminding the contenders of the league just how impactful they can be when fully healthy and engaged.

With few losses remaining on the schedule, Cronin will have to really commit to tearing this team down if he intends on keeping his 2022 first-round pick — be it to make the selection for Portland or another team.

If the roster remains intact or Cronin moves his veterans for equally talented assets, we may see Damian Lillard suit up again in the 2021-2022 NBA season.

Next. Anfernee Simons turning minutes into millions. dark