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Damian Lillard out for at least 6 weeks after abdomen surgery

By Brett Hein - | Jan 13, 2022

John McCoy, Associated Press

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) seen playing the Los Angeles Lakers in an NBA basketball game, Friday Dec. 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (John McCoy, Associated Press)

One of the most durable players in the NBA will be sidelined for at least six weeks after surgery to address a chronic injury.

Damian Lillard, the former Weber State star and six-time All-NBA selection with the Portland Trail Blazers, had surgery to correct a “core injury” that he’s played through for several seasons, the team announced Thursday.

The procedure addresses the connection between his abdomen, groin muscles and stabilization of the pubic joint, according to a story from Blazers online team reporter Casey Holdahl.

Lillard has not missed more than a couple weeks in any season to rest or recuperate injuries, once leading the league in minutes as a rookie and, two seasons ago, leading the league in minutes per game.

Lillard’s 3-point shooting is down some this season, but he’s just about at his career scoring mark, averaging 24 points over 29 games this season, adding 7.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game.

The pain and restrictions the injury caused got increasingly worse over the last few seasons, enough so that the injury became public after Lillard helped Team USA win Olympic gold in Tokyo last year.

“At the Olympics, it was as bad as it’s been and I was just like ‘Man, this is a real issue,’ Lillard told Holdahl.

Those who attended the fourth Weber State Alumni Classic in August 2021 may have noticed Lillard showing caution before and after a fastbreak dunk attempt, for instance.

After a poor start to this season, Lillard sat for five games, then received a cortisone injection and saw his production skyrocket. He totaled five games of scoring 30 or more points in December, including outings of 43 and 39 points, before the effects wore off and the realities of his injury set in.

The 31-year-old said he knew in his last game, Dec. 31, 2021, in Los Angeles, that it might be time to fully address the injury. Lillard sat Portland’s next five games and consulted with doctors, one of which said “Man, you’re having a great season based on what I’m looking at,” Lillard told Holdahl, noting that Kyle Lowry and Jrue Holiday have had similar procedures.

Lillard had surgery Thursday morning, with the Blazers saying the 6-foot-2 guard will be reevaluated in six weeks.

The Blazers have struggled to a 16-24 record, currently hanging on to a spot in 10th place that would put the team in a play-in playoff round. Not only has Lillard played injured, but fellow scoring guard CJ McCollum hasn’t played in six weeks after suffering a collapsed lung.

With new head coach Chauncey Billups in place, Portland has strained to find success on either end of the floor, 3-and-D forward Rob Covington has put out career lows, and the roster of surrounding talent now-ousted general manager Neil Olshey constructed for this year’s Blazers took a major step back from the previous two seasons.

So, that’s all to say there may not be much reason for Lillard to return to action toward the end of this season, aside from knocking off some rust heading into the offseason, if desired. His recovery, and plenty of trade possibilities around him, should have Portland focused on regrouping for next season.

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