One day after making national headlines for telling Yahoo! Sports NBA Insider Chris Haynes that he will not play when the NBA resumes the season unless the Trail Blazers have a real shot at making the postseason, Damian Lillard joined Jalen and Jacoby where he clarified his comments.
"It was taken out of context because it was a casual conversation," said Lillard. "It was like expletive this and expletive that but it wasn't a demonstrative statement. I was just saying we've been off for two months and if we come back we want to play for something."
Later in the appearance, Jacoby asked the Blazers' franchise player if he could structure the NBA's return what shape would it take?
If I could I would design some type of play-in tournament between all the teams that were in striking distance because Sacramento was playing their best basketball of the season, so was New Orleans, and so were we. And none of those teams were in the playoffs but we were within striking distance with enough games left in the season to catch Memphis. So I feel like a play-in tournament would be perfect. - Damian Lillard
The Blazers had possession of the ninth seed in the Western Conference when the NBA season got suspended indefinitely on March 11, sitting 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot. However, both the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings had one less win and one less loss than the Blazers, making them both also 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies.
Earlier in the day, ESPN's Ramona Shelbourne and Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the NBA's considering bringing back 20 teams, including the four teams within striking distance of the eighth seed in Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, and San Antonio.
Lillard did also mention if the NBA just goes straight to the postseason and takes the top-16 teams, then he'd be disappointed but able to accept the decision.
"Just because we were within striking distance and had enough games to get into the playoffs but to that point, if they did decide that you know, we just going to go straight to the playoffs obviously we would all be disappointed but to this point we haven't performed to be in that top-eight so if that's the case then fine. But if we are going to come back to play games I feel that would be harder on everybody else."
Lillard originally said he'd want a chance to make the postseason at the end of March in a zoom press conference where he stated that the league should implement a play-in tournament similar to March Madness.
"When the season does come back, I feel like it’s only right that teams get a chance to make a playoff push, like ourselves, give us a chance to get in. Or, some type of tournament style where it’s fair," said Lillard. "It’s obviously gonna be a different situation than it has ever been, so maybe they should do something that has never been done. Or something that is going to make this year very unique like it already has been."
Will Lillard get his wish? It's looking likely, especially since the NBA will do everything in their power to get Zion back on the court who currently sits below the Blazers in the standings.
You can watch Lillard's full answer below.
Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.