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Report: Blazers' Damian Lillard to Have Surgery on Abdominal Injury; Out Indefinitely

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 13, 2022

Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard reportedly is undergoing surgery to address a lingering abdominal injury.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported the surgery is not believed to be season-ending but "that is to be determined." 

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports added Lillard will be reevaluated in six to eight weeks.

Lillard has not played since a Dec. 31 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He had been playing through lower abdominal tendinopathy for much of the season before being shut down at the start of the new year. The Blazers announced Jan. 5 that Lillard would undergo consultation with experts to determine his next step.

While the team won't rule Lillard out for the remainder of the season, it's hard to find a reason why he would return. The Blazers are 16-24 as the halfway point of the season approaches, barely clinging to the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference. Lillard's upcoming extended absence makes it a virtual certainty that Portland will be on the outside looking in on the playoff picture once the All-Star guard is healthy enough to return.

There is also some long-term incentive in Lillard sitting out. The Blazers haven't picked in the lottery since 2013 after making eight straight playoff appearances. Their on-court consistency was admirable, but they've been stuck in a no man's land of early playoff exits for several years.

Shutting down Lillard and then hoping for some lottery luck could be Portland's best bet at building a winner. The team could use its first-round pick and package it along with other players on the roster for an All-Star costar next to Lillard, potentially deading the Lillard trade rumors once and for all.

With the current iteration of the roster going nowhere fast, there's going to be a temptation to play the long game. 

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