2:17pm: Lillard isn’t expected to require surgery on his injured knee, a source tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link).
7:00am: Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is leaving the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus on Thursday to return to Portland, where he’ll undergo further examination of his injured right knee, the team announced (via Twitter).
Lillard was diagnosed with a right knee sprain after leaving Game 4 and had been ruled out for Game 5 before it was postponed. A Tuesday report suggested the All-Star guard was unlikely to return in the first round even if Portland had been able to force a Game 6 or Game 7, since he was unable to extend his right leg.
With the status of Game 5 still up in the air, it’s unclear how Lillard’s availability may be impacted. The NBA’s protocols state that players who leave the campus for medical exams or treatment aren’t necessarily subject to a full four days of quarantine if and when they return, but the Blazers star may not be healthy enough to play again this season anyway.
The team said in its statement that Lillard’s availability to return to the Orlando campus is “yet to be determined,” and that further updates will provided as necessary.
Lillard had been one of the NBA’s standout players since the season resumed in July. He earned bubble MVP honors by averaging 37.6 PPG and 9.6 APG on .497/.436/.888 shooting in the Blazers’ eight seeding games, then led the team to a win over Memphis in the Western Conference play-in game. Following his scorching-hot start this summer, Lillard has slowed down against the Lakers, in part due to health issues. Before injuring his knee in Game 4, he dislocated his left index finger in Game 2.