Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers not only have COVID-19 to worry about, but there are plenty of injury concerns as well

Trail Blazers

After the Trail Blazers voluntarily shut down their practice facility Sunday due to three positive COVID-19 tests, the Blazers officially began full team practices Tuesday.  

In the first day of training camp as a cohesive unit, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum discussed what it was like to finally get up and down as a team.

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As the duo and the rest of the team works to shake off the rust, they discussed the concerns leading into this season.

And it’s not just COVID-19 worries.

But after having one of their teammates test positive for the coronavirus, that had Lillard and McCollum thinking about who and when they came in contact with others.

“It was definitely an eye opener because I feel like I take all the proper steps to make sure that I’m being considerate of my family and being considerate of my teammates and my coaches, and everybody that I have to work with every day. I feel like everyone around here does that,” Lillard said Tuesday.

 

Once they told us that we had three positive tests, I was like, ‘man.’ I started thinking about who was in the weight room… whose hand did I shake, who did I fist bump? I started to just run back the whole prior two or three days.

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard

Now that the Blazers missed out on two full days of practice following the voluntary shut down Sunday, the Blazers have leaned on their individual workouts, which began last week. They also harped about the importance of how they’ve kept their bodies and prepared their bodies during this shortened offseason.

The Trail Blazers backcourt has said they are feeling good after Lillard suffered a mild knee sprain during the NBA restart in late Aug. and McCollum dealt with a L3 vertebral transverse process fracture that was non-displaced.

But yes, as McCollum rehabbed his fractured back during this offseason, there’s no question that suffering injuries with the schedule the Blazers have been handed will be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. 

“I think that’s what we’re most worried about besides the virus is -- you look at our schedule, we missed two practices, so we have seven practices left before an official game, which is not ideal,” McCollum explained. “We’ve got guys coming back from injuries, we’ve got guys trying to get in shape, but I think, the onus is on us as players.”

Both McCollum and Coach Terry Stotts pointed to the NFL as an example of a league that endured injuries early on in the season.

I think collectively we just have to pray for the best, hope for the best. We play every other day. Basically we’ve got – 20 games in 30, 31 days -- playing every other day. It’s going to be some interesting moments for sure, but I just hope everybody can stay more healthy than a lot of the football players in week 2. This [NFL] season there was a lot of injuries. So I’m praying that we can stay healthy.

Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum

While Coach Stotts said this is a “league-wide” concern.

You see what happened early on in football -- soft tissue injuries were up. So, we’re aware of it. It’s a concern, but we have to ramp things up so that they’re ready to play NBA games. There has to be a balance of extending the practices, extending the conditioning --but at the same time not go overboard.

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts 

Following the first three hours of working out together as a team, McCollum admitted that we would all see for ourselves the amount of rust that players are enduring at the moment once Friday rolls around and the Blazers host the Kings in their first preseason contest.  

“I thought it was a really good day,” McCollum said. “You could tell at times, you’ll see on Friday -- I haven’t played five-on-five since we lost to the Lakers, so a lot of guys are in that same boat in terms of trying to take care of your body, trying to make sure that you’re staying in safe environments.”

 

“We’ll get better, get more cohesive and start to understand spacing a little bit better as we progress,” McCollum added.

With a focus on staying healthy and getting NBA game-ready, Coach Stotts is looking forward to getting in two more solid practices before having his team ease into games beginning Friday.