Damian Lillard Injury: Would Trail Blazers Star Return This Season?
The Portland Trail Blazers All-Star guard Damian Lillard played in just 29 games before suffering an abdominal ailment that ended his 2021–22 campaign. Lillard was shut down immediately after his final game on December 31.
He had abdominal surgery in the middle of January, with a six-to eight-week recovery period initially prescribed. With a shooting split of.402/.324/.878 through 29 games, Lillard averaged 24.0 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.1 rebounds.
With a 26-44 record as of March 21, the Trail Blazers are 3.5 games off of a position in the Play-In Tournament and in 12th place in the Western Conference. With Lillard still down and the team without CJ McCollum, Robert Covington, Norman Powell, and Larry Nance Jr., Portland is obviously starting to rebuild, which will probably eliminate their chances of making the playoffs in 2022.
Could that affect Lillard’s timeline for healing and injury as well? Here is all the information currently available on his injury and his potential return date to the court.
What is Damian Lillard’s Injury?
For the first time this season, Lillard was officially ruled out of a game against Denver on November 14 due to “lower abdominal tendinopathy.”He said that during the Trail Blazers game against the Cavaliers earlier in the month, according to a Tweet, he was “irritated” by the injury. Between November 30 and December 8, Lillard missed five games due to the same issue:
Damian Lillard says he “irritated” a longtime core injury in the second quarter against Cleveland. He’s been dealing with it for years, including a flare-up at the Olympics this summer.
— Jack Winter (@ArmstrongWinter) November 4, 2021
How Long Will Damian Lillard Be Out?
The Blazers declared on February 27 that Lillard had completed his first round of rehabilitation without any problems and would return for another assessment in two to three weeks. The Blazers then revealed on January 13 that Lillard had surgery to fix a core issue that was causing persistent stomach pain.
Although there was initial hope that Lillard may make a comeback this season, that hope has faded. The Trail Blazers have reportedly decided to bench Lillard for the entire season in an effort to secure lottery status, as Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.
The team is also virtually certain to miss out on playoff positioning. Charania penned:
“Lillard will miss the remainder of the season following recovery from abdominal surgery in January, Lillard is making tremendous progress and has looked strong in workouts, according to sources, but the team decided it was best for Lillard’s rehab process to sit the remaining 12 games as the Trail Blazers play their group of young players.”
When the ailment first appeared on Lillard’s playing career “a few years ago,” he informed the media back in November that he was “sort of immune to playing with it.” Lillard reportedly managed the ailment during Team USA’s gold medal-winning performance in the Tokyo Olympics.
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Damian Lillard Contract
In the offseason, Lillard inked a four-year contract with Portland at a maximum of $176 million; this season, he will be responsible for $39.3 million. The remaining portion of his deal, which pays him $48.8 million, expires in 2024–2025.
For that last season, Lillard does have a player option, which means he may sign a free-agency contract without restrictions in the summer of 2024.
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