Blazers reportedly shut down Damian Lillard for rest of season
The Portland Trail Blazers' season has been miserable, and now it will no longer feature Damian Lillard.
With the team hobbled by injuries and all but eliminated from playoff contention, the Blazers are planning to hold out their All-Star guard for the rest of the season, according to TNT and Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes. Lillard had been sidelined since March 22 with "right calf tightness," and now will be shut down.
There had been rumblings the team was considering the move last weekend, and it's not hard to see why.
The Blazers' record sits at 32-43, good for 13th place in the Western Conference and a full five games back from the 10th-place Oklahoma City Thunder for the final spot in the play-in tournament. Even in a season where nearly every serious team in the West is in the mix, the Blazers are out of it with seven games left on their schedule.
Damian Lillard has been good, the Blazers have been awful
Lillard's play hasn't been the reason for that futility. The seven-time All-Star has been as good as ever, averaging a career-high 32.2 points per game on 46.3% shooting (37.1% from deep), plus 7.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game.
This season has also seen him score 71 points in one game, win the NBA All-Star 3-Point Contest and become the Blazers' all-time leading scorer, though he also missed some time early in the season with a calf strain.
The Blazers' bigger problem, as usual, has been the roster around Lillard, especially with this year's injury issues. In addition to Lillard, Jusuf Nurkić, Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant — three players after Lillard on the Blazers' points per game leaderboard — have all been dealing with injuries over the last month.
There was also the issue with Gary Payton II, who was signed with big hopes last offseason, but whose injury issues are now the Golden State Warriors' problem.
It has been a very bad season for the Blazers and the team no longer has any real reason to stop it from being worse, though you might also wonder if this becoming too familiar a position for the man who was just shut down.