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Report: Trail Blazers forward Nassir Little likely to miss rest of season with shoulder injury

Nassir Little in Minnesota Timberwolves v Portland Trail Blazers

PORTLAND, OR - JANUARY 25: Nassir Little #9 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives to the basket during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 25, 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 Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

A silver lining to Damian Lillard’s injury: Young Trail Blazers Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little have seized their opportunity to step up.

But now Little is sidelined, too.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This is lost valuable development time for Little, who has improved steadily through his three-year career. The 21-year-old will be eligible for a contract extension this offseason.

This also exponentially dents Portland’s postseason chances.

Lillard said he’d be more likely to return if the Trail Blazers remain in the playoff race. Portland has gone 7-6 since Lillard last went out and is clinging to play-in position at 10th in the Western Conference. But it’ll be harder to maintain that pace with Lillard, Robert Covington, Larry Nance Jr., Dennis Smith Jr., Cody Zeller and now Little banged up.

A tumble in the standings could make the Trail Blazers even more likely to trade Covington, who has already figured prominently in rumors. Dealing Covington with Little sideline would really hinder forward depth.

It’s not hard to envision Portland tanking down the stretch.