Throughout the 2021-2022 NBA season, Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has battled a significant abdominal injury. It’s unclear how much his setback has affected him, but the Portland guard clearly wasn’t himself to start the year.
Just last season, Lillard averaged 28 points per game in 67 outings. As he attempted 10 threes per game, Lillard shot 39-percent from deep. This year, his scoring average is down four points. While he’s taking just one fewer three per game, Lillard regressed from beyond the arc as he’s drained just 32-percent of his shots from deep in 29 games.
Lately, there’s been a lot of speculation about Lillard’s future. Ever since the start of the year, Lillard has been involved in trade rumors. However, each time Lillard was linked to a possible trade, the star guard reiterated his loyalty to Portland. Meanwhile, the Blazers always returned the favor by shooting down any interested suitors.
Many believed that Portland’s slow start to the year would cause Lillard to switch his stance, but it hasn’t. However, the star guard has decided to shut down his season temporarily as he underwent surgery in Philadelphia this week.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Lillard underwent successful surgery on his abdomen on Wednesday morning. Per Haynes, Lillard is expected to be re-evaluated in 5-6 weeks.
Will Lillard return this season? It could depend on how the Blazers perform without him. If Portland still has a shot at making the playoffs, then Lillard might come back to help with a late push. If the struggles continue, the star guard might focus on preparing for next season instead.
Regardless of what Lillard decides to do when he heals up, it’s become clear he won’t be leaving the Blazers anytime soon, if at all. As Portland and Lillard continue to show mutual interest in staying together, trade suitors will have to shift their focus elsewhere.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.