NBA

Damian Lillard Will Not Play If Blazers Don’t Have a Shot at the Playoffs

DENVER, CO - MAY 7: Damian Lillard (0) of the Portland Trail Blazers shows signs of frustration against the Denver Nuggets during the third quarter on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. The Denver Nuggets versus the Portland Trail Blazers in game five of the teams' second round NBA playoff series at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
AAron Ontiveroz/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard does not anticipate playing in a resumed NBA season if the goal is to merely hit 70 games and fulfill regional television contracts, per Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes.

“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,”

Damian Lillard

“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,” Lillard told Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes. “But I’m not going to be participating. I’m telling you that right now. And you can put that in there.”

Before the season was suspended, the Blazers had a 29-37 record, occupying the ninth seed in the Western Conference. They were 3.5 games back from the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

With the NBA mulling multiple options with respect to restarting the season, Lillard supports having a play-in style tournament for the lower seeded teams. 

“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.”

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard would go on to lament the fact that he would be disappointed with the idea of not being able to compete for a playoff spot, considering the multitude of injuries the Blazers have endured this season. Jusuf Nurkik has been sidelined since last year with a broken leg, and Zach Collins has been out since October with a shoulder injury.

I do feel like if we do come back and our mind is right, we can beat anyone.

Damian Lillard

“We had our starting center and starting power forward coming back, so we had a lot to look forward to and for a great reason. Now, they’re healthy and have extra time to train and rehab while everybody’s rusty. So now, they won’t be coming back as the only rusty players. And if everybody’s rusty, we can come in here and beat everybody. I do feel like if we do come back and our mind is right, we can beat anyone.”

Damian Lillard was averaging 28.9 points, 7,8 assists, and 4.3 rebounds before the season was truncated.

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