Lillard won’t play if Blazers can’t reach playoffs
May 28 2020 01:20 AM
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard. PICTURE: USA TODAY Sports
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard. PICTURE: USA TODAY Sports

Reuters /Los Angeles

Portland’s path to the playoffs will dictate whether All-Star guard Damian Lillard suits up when the Trail Blazers are back on the court this summer.
Lillard told Yahoo Sports he won’t play if the Blazers, currently ninth in the Western Conference, don’t have a true opportunity to make up the ground necessary to grab the final playoff spot.
“If we come back and they’re just like, ‘We’re adding a few games to finish the regular season,’ and they’re throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don’t have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I’m going to be with my team because I’m a part of the team. But I’m not going to be participating. I’m telling you that right now. And you can put that (expletive) in there,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday.
Portland is 29-37 and 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The No. 8 seed is in line to match up with the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.
No decisions have been made on the postseason format and the NBA is reportedly hesitant to require all 30 teams to report to Orlando and Disney World Resorts, especially teams that aren’t in position to qualify for the playoffs.
Lillard, who missed the All-Star Game in Chicago with a hamstring injury, prefers the plan executives have discussed for teams on the outside looking in — using a play-in style tournament for teams currently in the 7-12 slots in each conference.
“If we come back and I don’t have an opportunity to make the playoffs, I will show up to work, I’ll be at practice and I’ll be with my team. I’m going to do all that (expletive) and then I’m going to be sitting right on that bench during the games,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “If they come back and say it’s something like a tournament, play-in style, between the No. 7 and No. 12 seeds, if we’re playing for playoff spots, then I think that’s perfect.”
Lillard is anxious to hear the NBA’s plan — which could happen as soon as Friday — for the rest of the season, especially if it means a first-round playoff series with LeBron James and the Lakers.
“Not too long ago, we played them in LA and obviously I had a great game and we won a close one, and in the playoffs, I’m sure they would come up with some type of game plan to not allow that to happen. But I want to compete. That’s what we want.”
Lillard scored 48 points in Portland’s 127-119 win over the Lakers in Los Angeles on January 31.

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