Blazers' Damian Lillard vouches for play-in tournament when NBA resumes

Blazers' Damian Lillard vouches for play-in tournament when NBA resumes

It remains unclear and unknown when or how the NBA season will resume. The Kings, currently 28-36 and on the outside looking in of the playoff picture, are awaiting word on if and when their season will continue.

One thing is clear, though: Damian Lillard won't play games amid the coronavirus pandemic if his Portland Trail Blazers aren't given a true shot at the playoffs. 

"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," Lillard said to Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes. "But I'm not going to be participating. I'm telling you that right now.

"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 and then I'm going to be sitting right on that bench during the games.

The Blazers have played 66 games so far this season. Lillard refuses to be a part of a ploy to get to 70 games, which is the minimum to fulfill regional television deals. But if there's a chance to win a ring, he's all-in.

"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 said.

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There are a number of ways the NBA can go to continue the season. Will all teams be involved? Will there be a play-in tournament that Lillard suggested, or a 16-team tournament regardless of conferences? What about the teams on the outside looking in?

That includes Portland and the Kings. The Blazers (29-37) currently are the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference, percentage points ahead of the Kings (28-36).

Sacramento hasn't made the playoffs since the 2005-06 season. Circumstances be damned, the Kings would love a crack at the postseason.

[RELATED: How NBA's Orlando scenarios impact Kings' playoff hopes]

The Kings are 2-2 against Lillard and the Blazers this season, and last played Portland on March 7 when Bogdan Bogdanovic's 27 points led Sacramento to a 123-111 win on the road.

All remains a mystery right now. The only way Lillard is playing games, however, is if they can compete for a championship. It's easy to see other players around the league sharing his same feelings, too.

Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook tests positive for coronavirus

Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook tests positive for coronavirus

So far, the NBA’s bubble has yet to turn up a positive coronavirus test. But getting to Orlando seems to be an obstacle for certain players.

On Monday morning, Houston Rockets superstar Russell Westbrook turned to twitter to announce that he has tested positive for Covid-19 and is currently under quarantine.

“I tested positive for covid-19 prior to my teams departure to Orlando,” Westbrook announced. “I’m currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I am cleared. Thank you for the well wishes and continued support. Please take this virus seriously. Be safe. Mask up! #whynot”

Westbrook, along with teammate James Harden, have both been absent from the Orlando bubble. Coach Mike D’Antoni skirted around the issue when speaking to the media.

[RELATED: Kings get adrenaline pumping in first full-contact practice in Orlando]

"These are things that people are dealing with, we're not going to get in why, why not,” D’Antoni said. “They're on their way."

The Rockets coach thought both of his star players would arrive around mid-week. Whether that is still the case is unknown at this time.

The Sacramento Kings are slated to play the Rockets in their sixth game of the restart on August 9, which is still nearly a month away. If either Westbrook or Harden were to miss that contest, it would definitely change the odds for the contest.

At the time of the shutdown, Westbrook was averaging 27.5 points, eight rebounds and seven assists per game. The nine-time All-Star and former league MVP is in his first season playing with the Rockets after eleven seasons in Oklahoma City.

There is no word on why Harden is absent from the bubble, but like Westbrook, he is a key to the Rockets success. The 2017-18 NBA MVP was leading the league in scoring at 34.4 points per game when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

If Westbrook or Harden miss substantial time during the restart, it would severely impact the Rockets chances of advancing deep into the playoffs. Either way, they are missing valuable practice time as the teams attempt to piece their squads back together on the fly in Orlando.

Houston is also waiting on the return of Luc Mbah a Moute, who was signed to replace Thabo Sefalosha. Sefalosha opted out of the restart.

Lakers' Rajon Rondo suffered fractured right thumb; out 6-to-8 weeks

Lakers' Rajon Rondo suffered fractured right thumb; out 6-to-8 weeks

While the Kings are starting to get players back, one of their opponents has lost a key role player.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo suffered a fractured right thumb during practice in Orlando on Sunday, the team told reporters.

Rondo will undergo surgery to repair the fracture and is expected to miss 6-to-8 weeks.

While Rondo doesn't start for the Lakers, he's a vital member of their second unit. The veteran point guard is averaging 20.5 minutes per game this season, the second-most of any Lakers reserve behind forward Kyle Kuzma.

With Rondo out and Avery Bradley electing not to play in the NBA season restart, the Lakers will go into the eight seeding games and first few weeks of the playoffs without two important complimentary players. Based on the timeline, Rondo should be able to return to action sometime during the playoffs, assuming the Lakers continue to advance.

But before the Lakers can start their push for an NBA title, they have to face the Kings in their final seeding game on Aug. 13.

[RELATED: Kings hold full-contact practice]

For the Kings, that game could hold huge significance. The Lakers are secure in their spot in the playoffs, but the Kings might really need to win that final game in order to force a potential play-in game(s) for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

In two games against the Kings this season, Rondo averaged 6.5 points, 6.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 22.5 minutes.

Of course, Rondo's injury doesn't push the matchup in favor of the Kings, but coach Luke Walton and his squad will take every advantage they can get.