Windhorst: Damian Lillard ‘Not Worried About’ Blazers Contract Extension After Injury

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 13, 2022

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. (AP Photo/John McCoy)
AP Photo/John McCoy

Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is reportedly "not worried about" how is abdominal injury could affect his team's decision to give him a contract extension at the end of the season.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst provided more information on NBA Today during a conversation with studio host Malika Andrews (1:40 mark).

"However, in talking to folks around Dame, this is not something that Dame is worried about," Windhorst said. "Dame is trying to get healthy. Dame wants to remain in Portland, and the contract extension will come as a normal course of business as most players who have two years left on his contract—stars, guys like [Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler], who did the exact same thing last summer—they will talk about it, but it's not something that is a guiding principle I am told."

The Blazers announced on Thursday that Lillard underwent surgery "to repair a core injury causing chronic abdominal pain." The 31-year-old, who has been out since Dec. 31, will be re-evaluated in six weeks.

Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Lillard is eligible—and wants to—sign a two-year, $107 million contract extension in July that would keep him with the team through the 2026-27 campaign.

He's currently playing on a four-year, $196 million supermax contract extension through 2024-25.

Lillard missed a game on Nov. 14 as well as a stint from Dec. 1-12 because of the abdominal injury. His performance has notably taken a dip in 2021-22, with his scoring (28.8 points per game in 2020-21 to 24.0 PPG), field-goal percentage (45.1 to a career-low 40.2 percent) and three-point percentage (39.1 to a career-low 32.4 percent) all falling.

Lillard told reporters (h/t Jason Quick of The Athletic) in November that he's been playing with abdominal discomfort for the last three seasons. He also aggravated the abdominal injury during the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

The six-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA selection and Olympic gold medalist earned a spot on the league's 75th anniversary team this past year. He's one of the game's most prolific offensive players when healthy and has been part of eight straight Blazers teams that have earned postseason berths.

That streak is on the line with the shorthanded 16-24 Blazers currently 10th in the Western Conference, but it's conceivable Lillard comes back late in the season and looks like his old self as he guides Portland to the playoffs once again.

Regardless of his return date, though, the hope is that one of the game's most entertaining and clutch players gets back healthy as soon as possible.