Blazers’ Lillard: If there’s no shot at playoffs, I’ll sit out

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Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard says he will travel with his team, but he won’t play if their playoff chances are nil. AFP

Portland star Damian Lillard says he won’t play if the resumed NBA season doesn’t offer the Trail Blazers any chance of making the playoffs.

Multiple reports have said that the North American professional basketball league is keen to ensure that all teams complete a minimum of 70 regular seasons games in order to fulfil contractual obligations with regional television networks.

That could mean the Trail Blazers, who are one place outside the playoff berths in the Western Conference with a 29-37 record, have no realistic prospect of overhauling Memphis for the eighth spot in the postseason.

Lillard said if that scenario unfolded, he would effectively boycott the Blazers’ remaining games.

“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.

“But I’m not going to be participating.”

The NBA is exploring a plan to resume the season late in July at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, although final details of a plan have yet to be determined.

It remains unclear whether the league will aim to complete the rest of the regular season or go straight into the playoff schedule.

Lillard is adamant, however, that he won’t play if Portland has no chance of reaching the postseason.

“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. I’m going to do all that . . . and then I’m going to be sitting right on that bench during the games,” said Lillard.

He said he backed the idea of holding a mini-tournament involving teams currently outside the playoff places to determine the postseason line-up.

“If they come back and say it’s something like a tournament, play-in style, between the No7 and No12 seeds, if we’re playing for playoff spots, then I think that’s perfect,” he said.