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It’s official: Damian Lillard will not return to court for Blazers this season

Golden State Warriors v Portland Trail Blazers

PORTLAND, OR - FEBRUARY 24: (EDITORS NOTE: this photo has been converted to black and white.) Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on and smiles before the game against the Golden State Warriors on February 24, 2022 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

This has been expected, but the Trail Blazers have made it official: Damian Lillard will not return to the court this season.

The team said their six-time All-NBA guard had “progressed well through the reconditioning phase of his rehab protocol” and had met recovery benchmarks, but he will not play this season following abdominal surgery.

Not so coincidentally, the Trail blazers are tanking for better lotty odds — they have lost 10-of-12 while rolling out young lineups and sitting their stars — and Lillard has said he’s not coming back just to compete for a draft pick.

Portland will spend that high draft pick and everything else they do this summer trying to rebuild around Lillard, reportedly targeting the Pistons’ Jerami Grant among others.

However, other front offices not full sold Lillard will stay long term, and they are watching Lillard for signs he is ready to bolt the Northwest and chase a ring somewhere else. So far that has not been the case, but other teams are hopeful.