Will Damian Lillard Return To Trail Blazers In 2021-22 NBA Season?

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JB Baruelo

Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers entered the 2021-22 NBA season with the goal of fully dominating the Western Conference and winning the NBA championship title. Unfortunately, since the season started, the Trail Blazers are yet to live up to expectations from a team that is aiming to capture the Larry O'Brien Trophy. As of now, the Trail Blazers have lost six of their last 10 games, sitting in the No. 10 spot in the Western Conference with a 16-24 record.

Damian Lillard Undergoes Surgery

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To make things more complicated for the Trail Blazers, they are currently playing without the explosive backcourt duo of Lillard and CJ McCollum. While McCollum, who was injured back in December, is already 100 percent healthy and soon set to return to the court, Lillard is expected to be on the sideline for a long period of time.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the All-Star point guard will undergo surgery to address his abdominal injury. After the surgery, Lillard will be re-evaluated in six to eight weeks.

Will Damian Lillard Return This Season?

As of now, Trail Blazers' fans are hoping that Lillard could still return to the court in the 2021-22 NBA season. As Haynes noted, Lillard's return to play this season will depend on two factors - his health and the Trail Blazers' standings in the Western Conference. Despite their obvious need for Lillard's presence on the court, it would do them more harm than good to rush his return to the court.

However, if the Trail Blazers won't find a way to win and continue to drop in the Western Conference rankings, it no longer makes sense for Lillard to return this season even if he immediately recovers from his injury.

Damian Lillard Injury Timeline

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Lillard's injury didn't just start during the 2021-22 NBA season. According to Haynes, the All-Star point guard has been "publicly dealing" with the abdominal injury since he was still playing for Team USA when they participated in 2020 Tokyo Olympics last summer. After undergoing an MRI in early December last year, Lillard's camp confirmed that he's suffering from lower abdominal tendinopathy.

Lillard received a cortisone injection to mitigate the pain but after playing nine games, the veteran point guard was sidelined again.

Damian Lillard's Future With Trail Blazers

Aside from waiting for his return, most NBA fans are also closely monitoring Lillard's situation in Portland. Lillard may have said on numerous occasions that he intends to finish his NBA career with the Trail Blazers, but he also expressed his desire to play for a team that can realistically contend for the NBA championship title.

As of now, the Trail Blazers are far from being considered a legitimate title contender. If they won't make a major roster upgrade before the 2022 NBA trade deadline or in the 2022 NBA offseason, it won't be a surprise if Lillard decides to follow in the footsteps of other superstars and starts finding his way out of Portland.