Lillard won't rule out sitting rest of season if Blazers 'play for a draft pick'

Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard stressed Saturday he won't hurry his return to the court after undergoing surgery to remedy a prolonged abdominal issue.

Lillard disclosed he hasn't spoken to management about the possibility of sitting out the rest of the season if the team decides to prioritize its positioning in the draft. However, he likely won't return if Portland decides to go that route.

"No, we haven't gone that far," he said, courtesy of the team. "I'm just a week from surgery. And we said we'll re-evaluate my situation weeks out, six-to-eight weeks, and we'll talk about it then.

"If we're going to play for a draft pick it wouldn't make sense for me (to return) ... because I'm not going to play for no draft pick," the 31-year-old said. "I'm just not capable of that, so it would be best - if that's what we were doing or what was decided, then it wouldn't make sense for me to play."

Entering Saturday, Portland is 19-26 and occupies the final play-in seed in the Western Conference. However, they're nearly as close to last in the West as they are to a top-six seed; the Blazers are four-and-a-half games back of the Denver Nuggets in sixth but just six games ahead of the bottom-dwelling Houston Rockets.

Lillard added he can't remember when he first started playing with the abdominal discomfort but noted the pain reached its "peak" while with Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics. The pain temporarily subsided after a few weeks off but then returned.

Lillard registered 24 points per game - his lowest scoring mark since his third season - and shot a career-low 32.4% on threes through the first 29 contests of his 10th campaign.

In 10 games without their franchise star, the Trail Blazers have gone 6-4.

Lillard won't rule out sitting rest of season if Blazers 'play for a draft pick'
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