Damian Lillard's season is over so how will the Blazers cope?
The Portland Trail Blazers were already at risk of missing the playoffs, now they must cope with the loss of star Damian Lillard for the rest of the season.
What has been a problematic season for the Blazers and their 'franchise play' just got worse as it's now understood that he will miss the rest of the season.
Damian Lillard to miss the rest of the season
According to reports on Monday, Portland Trail Blazers' star Damian Lillard will miss the remainder of the season as he recovers from abdominal surgery. It should be noted that Lillard's operation was actually in January, however, it now seems that his rehabilitation has not gone according to plan. "He has met several key performance benchmarks to date and will continue end-stage rehab over the next few weeks," the Blazers explained in their statement before clarifying that Lillard will not play again in this campaign. To date Lillard has played just 29 games.
What happened to Damian Lillard?
The unfortunate thing for both Lillard and the Blazers is that the abdominal issue with which he has been plagued is actually something that has been troubling him since last season. Indeed, Lillard visibly struggled during last year's Olympics. Perhaps there is no better indication of the the problem that Liillard has faced than his numbers. With a career low average from both the field and behind the arc - 40.2% and 34.2% respectively - Lillard has averaged 24 points per game, which for some would be credible but for a player of his caliber is actually the lowest he's posted since the 2014/15 season. Needless to say the Blazers have been dealt a significant blowas they try to stay in touch with the hunt for a playoff spot.
How are the Blazers dealing with Lillard's absence?
While Lillard's status is without doubt a significant problem for Portland, it is at least a situation which they have been able to meet head on, having been able to see it coming. Post surgery the Blazers moved quickly to bring some degree of security to the team. They traded veterans CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Larry Nance Jr. and Robert Covington for draft picks, younger players and of course salary cap relief. On the other hand, it must be said that they have been unable bring more security to their current position in the conference. At present Portland are 11th in the Western Conference and in reality are running the real risk of slipping further down the table. A possibility that is made all the more real by the absence of several players who are fighting to recover from injuries.
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Though it may seem strange a good outcome for Portland would actually be to remain in their current position which would allow them to not only add thier own lottery pick, but also the one they received from New Orleans when they traded McCollum. As for Lillard, while he was at the center of trade rumors during the offseason he went on to state his intention to stay and more over his desire to win a title in Portland. With Portland's smooth moves in the market along with added salary cap space, it now seems that Lillard's hopes and dreams may just have a chance of becoming reality.