Blazers Trade Rumors: Damian Lillard Injury Key for Teams Looking to Deal with POR

Adam WellsJanuary 8, 2022

PORTLAND, OR - JANUARY 5: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on before the game against the Miami Heat on January 5, 2022 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Damian Lillard's ongoing injury issues are a potentially complicating factor if the Portland Trail Blazers start to take trade offers for their star point guard. 

Per NBA reporter Marc Stein on his Substack, opposing teams are keeping an eye on what direction the Blazers take with Lillard as he continues to deal with an abdominal injury:

"Numerous teams are watching Portland intently to see how the Trail Blazers handle Damian Lillard’s ongoing issues with an abdominal injury, since an extended absence or a potential surgery—avenues that the Blazers have resisted to this point—would certainly have a significant impact on their trade deadline approach."

The Blazers announced on Wednesday that Lillard would miss at least the next three games to undergo additional evaluation and consultation about the abdominal tendinopathy that has plagued him all season. 

In August, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Lillard played through an abdominal injury with Team USA during the Olympics. 

It's been apparent from his performance this season that something has been wrong with Lillard. The six-time All-Star has his lowest scoring average (24.0 points per game) since 2014-15 with the worst field-goal percentage (40.2) and three-point percentage (32.4) of his career. 

There is no indication that the Blazers or Lillard are interested in pursuing a trade. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported last month that Portland officials made it clear to the Philadelphia 76ers that Lillard wasn't available and the team "has no interest in moving him."

Not having Lillard at 100 percent has had a profound impact on Portland's performance this season. The Trail Blazers are 12th in the Western Conference standings with a 14-23 record. They rank 11th in offensive rating (111.2) but are last in defensive rating (115.5), per Basketball-Reference.com.   

Lillard has two more guaranteed years on his contract, plus a $48.8 million player option for the 2024-25 season. He has spent his entire 10-year NBA career with the Trail Blazers since being drafted No. 6 overall in 2012.