Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard says he has no interest in resuming the NBA regular season if it's only for a handful of games in order to fulfill regional TV contracts. If that will be the case, then the five-time All-Star says he will report to his team, but he won't be playing.
"If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team," Lillard told Yahoo! Sports' Chris Haynes. "But I'm not going to be participating. I'm telling you that right now. And you can put that [expletive] in there."
When the season went on pause due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Mar. 11, the Blazers sat in ninth in the Western Conference after 66 games, 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot.
Lillard says he's gung ho when it comes to helping the Blazers make a legitimate run at a playoff spot.
"If we come back and I don't have an opportunity to make the playoffs, I will show up to work, I'll be at practice and I'll be with my team," Lillard said. "I'm going to do all that [expletive] and then I'm going to be sitting right on that bench during the games. If they come back and say it's something like a tournament, play-in style, between the No. 7 and No. 12 seeds, if we're playing for playoff spots, then I think that's perfect."
With Jusuf Nurkic (out since last year with a broken leg) and Zach Collins (out since October with a shoulder injury) ready for game action, Lillard believes that not only would the Blazers be able to make the playoffs, but they'd also be able to give the Los Angeles Lakers a run for their money in a No. 1 versus No. 8 matchup.
"I just feel like that would be the matchup people want to see," Lillard said. "And not to say nobody wants to see Memphis, because they're in the eighth and they've been in the eighth spot for a while. They've earned that. You can't take anything away from Memphis. They play hard, they're exciting and they've got a lot of young talent. The Lakers would have their hands full playing against them. Memphis beat the Lakers this year. Memphis would have nothing to lose. I feel like both series could be a little bit hectic for the Lakers, but I think more so us, because of the experience and where we are in our careers. Not too long ago, we played them in L.A. and obviously, I had a great game and we won a close one, and in the playoffs, I'm sure they would come up with some type of game plan to not allow that to happen. But I want to compete. That's what we want."
In 58 games this season, Lillard was averaging 28.9 points on .457 shooting with 7.8 assists and 4.3 boards over 36.9 minutes a night.