Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard suffered a right groin strain late in his team’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, and as a result, he will not be participating in any events at All-Star weekend in Chicago. Lillard was slated to participate in both the 3-point contest and the All-Star Game itself.
The injury occurred late in the fourth quarter of the contest against the Grizzlies as Lillard drove to the basket and tried to score over Jonas Valanciunas. His shot attempt was blocked and he landed awkwardly afterward. He went directly to Portland’s locker room and didn’t return. He is scheduled to have an MRI on Thursday. You can see the play below:
Lillard is obviously disappointed about not being able to go toe-to-toe with the other selected All-Stars, but he wants to put his health first so that he can return to game action as quickly as possible for Portland. As for who will replace him in the annual exhibition, Lillard said that he would like to see a deserving player, like Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, get in.
“My health is first,” Lillard said. “I’ll still be there and be a part of it, but I’m not going to be able to play. Hopefully, somebody that should have been there but didn’t make it [will take my place]. Unfortunately, I had to be the fall guy, but hopefully, Devin Booker or somebody like that will get the spot… I don’t think it makes sense to try to force myself to be out there doing stuff just so I can’t miss out on it. I’ve been there, I’ve done it all before, and I’m sure I’ll have more opportunities to do it. I want to make sure that I’m healthy so when the break is over I’m rested and I’ve done all that I can do to be ready as soon as possible.”
Lillard got his wish, as Booker was indeed selected as his replacement for both the All-Star Game and the 3-Point Contest, the league officially announced on Thursday. The All-Star nod is the first for Booker, though the fifth-year guard has previously participated in the 3-Point Contest, as he won the event in 2018.
While it’s a bummer that Lillard won’t be showing his stuff in the All-Star Game, it’s nice that Booker will get an opportunity to play in his place. Plus, the Blazers don’t play again until Feb. 21, so Lillard will have plenty of time to rest the groin to get right for the remainder of the regular season.