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Lillard: “I’m not in a rush” to return, could sit out rest of season if Trail Blazers out of playoffs

As the NBA season reaches its halfway point, Corey Robinson and Kurt Helin make some awards picks -- from Giannis Antetokounmpo for MVP to some disagreement for Coach of the Year.

At 19-26, the Portland Trail Blazers sit 10th in the West, just holding on to the final play-in spot in the conference.

Is that good enough to push Damian Lillard to come back this season? If the Trail Blazers slip a little in the standings without their best player, is that more motivation for him to stay on the sidelines?

“I mean, if we’re gonna play for a draft pick it wouldn’t make sense to me. Because I’m not gonna play for no draft pick. I’m just not capable of that,” Lillard said to reporters on Saturday, the first time he has spoken to the media since the surgery (quotes via the Associated Press). “So it’d be best if that was what we were doing, or what was decided, then it wouldn’t make sense for me to play.”

For now, Lillard said he is focused on his recovery and will get together with doctors and re-evaluate the situation in a couple of months.

“I’m just a week from surgery. We said we’ll re-evaluate my situation weeks out, six to eight weeks, and we’ll talk about it then. But I’m not in a rush,” he said. “My number one goal is to win a championship. I’ve got to be in the best form of myself to make that happen and to be a part of that. So I’m not in a rush. We’ll talk about whatever that timeline is when we get to that point.”

Lillard said he has had this abdominal pain on and off — but increasing in intensity — since 2015. It flared up during the Tokyo Olympics, and it was there that USA teammate Jrue Holiday suggested surgery.

“He was the first person that pretty much confirmed that I needed to have surgery because I sat out of practice one day and I was like, `I can’t move,’ and I was kind of just holding it. And he just started describing every single symptom,” Lillard said. “And he was like `I had it.”’

Holiday bounced back and won a ring after surgery. Lillard hopes he can do the same.