The lower abdominal tendinopathy that has slowed Damian Lillard all season — and going back to the Tokyo Olympics — is not improving with a little time off.
Lillard will not join the team on an upcoming six-game road trip and will see specialists about the issue, coach Chauncey Billups said in his pregame media session, via friend-of-this-site Sean Highkin. Lillard potentially could be out longer.
Last month, Lillard received a cortisone shot to relieve the pain, but that proved to be a temporary treatment of the symptoms, not the underlying problem. Lower abdominal tendinopathy is a strain of the tendon that connects the abdomen/six-pack muscle (the rectus abdominis muscle, for those that went to medical school) to the pelvic bone. An injury to that tendon usually causes pain just above the groin/genital area.
The injury has clearly impacted Lillard this season. He is averaging 24 points a game (it was 28.8 last season), and he is shooting 32.4% from 3 (down from 39.1%), and more than the stats he’s just not moving the same way. Things were better after he got the cortisone shot — he averaged 29.6 points on 36% shooting from 3, plus 6.2 assists a game in December. That shot, however, was a temporary fix.
What the specialists find and how long Lillard is out could impact the Trail Blazers’ trade deadline. Lillard himself is not available for trade, but will the team consider trading CJ McCollum or Jusuf Nurkic — and does interim GM Joe Cronin have the power to shake up the roster in a serious way? Other teams around the league are watching and wondering.