Report: Trail Blazers ‘seriously considering’ shutting Damian Lillard down as playoff odds dwindle


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The rumors that Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is likely to be shut down for the season just got realer. Saturday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported the franchise is “leaning toward” shutting the guard down for the regular season’s final nine games. According to his report, the organization is “seriously considering taking precautions as Lillard deals with calf injury and the team is 3.5 games out of Play-In Tournament race.”

This doesn’t come as a surprise to most, as even Lillard was blunt about the potential of not playing again this season after a 117-102 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday, which was Portland’s sixth straight defeat.

“I don’t think anybody around is crazy, you look at what the other teams are doing, creating separation. We’re on a losing streak. We’ve pretty much fallen out of the race for the 10th spot unless we go out there and win every game,” Lillard said. “I love to play, I love the competition and I haven’t been ready to give that up. But it does come a point in time when do you stop putting your competitive nature out front.”

The reported consideration for Lillard’s health seems smart. He missed a significant amount of last season with an abdominal injury he sustained in December and wasn’t able to successfully return from. This season, he was able to miss minimal games after sustaining a calf injury in late October.

That considered, the No. 13 spot in the Western Conference doesn’t seem like a strong enough starting point to potentially risk any more complications for an unlikely playoff push.

Despite Portland’s unfortunate 32-41 record, Lillard has been on a tear this season. Wednesday, he notched his 33rd 30-plus point game of the season with 30 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists in the victory over the Utah Jazz.

Compared to some of his other performances this season, one could argue that was a light night for Lillard.

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, center, drives against Los Angeles Clippers' Eric Gordon, left, and Terance Mann, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Sunday, March 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)
Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard recently spoke about the team’s playoff odds. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

In December, Lillard passed Clyde Drexler as Portland’s all-time leading scorer. Less than a month later, he dropped a season-high 60 points in a win over the Jazz. That performance gave him 15 career 50-point games, which is sixth-most in league history.

Last month, Lillard exploded for a career-high 71 points in a win over the Houston Rockets. If he is, in fact, shut down soon, he at least won’t be subject to anymore postgame blood tests like the one he lamented about to reporters.

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