The Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Lakers were scheduled to play Game 5 of their first-round series on Wednesday, but that contest and all other games were officially put on hold as players chose to sit out in protest of the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man who was trying to break up a fight in Kenosha, Wisconsin last weekend.
Damian Lillard was already going to miss that contest anyway after suffering a right knee sprain against the Lakers on Monday night, and his status for the remainder of the series was unclear even if the Blazers were able to extend it to a Game 6 with a win on Wednesday.
Given the latest developments and the uncertainty surrounding the remainder of the season, Lillard is reportedly returning to Portland on Thursday for further evaluations on his injured knee, according to the team.
Damian Lillard will leave the NBA campus in Orlando on Thursday & return to Portland for further examination of his injured right knee. Lillard's availability to return to the Orlando campus is yet to be determined. Further updates will be provided as necessary.
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) August 27, 2020
Lillard had been spectacular during his time in Orlando, leading Portland through a gritty eight-game regular-season gauntlet to earn their spot in the postseason and delivering several unbelievable performances that earned him MVP of the seeding games.
Lillard and the Blazers certainly made the most of their opportunity with a healthy Jusuf Nurkic back in the lineup and in the process reminded us just how dangerous they can be at full strength. Unfortunately, they appeared to have run out of gas in their first-round series against the Lakers after a stunning victory in Game 1.
Now, Lillard and the Blazers will look toward an uncertain future as the fate of both the current season and next season hang in the balance as the players and owners work collectively to find a way forward.