According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Damian Lillard will undergo abdomen surgery on Thursday and will be sidelined for six-to-eight weeks before he’s reevaluated. That’s terrible news for the Trail Blazers, and it’s also not the best news for a Chicago Bulls team that wouldn’t hate to see the Blazers make the playoffs this season.
Yahoo Sources: Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard to undergo surgery tomorrow for an abdomen issue and will be re-evaluated in 6-8 weeks. https://t.co/uuEy0V3TWQ
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) January 12, 2022
The three-team trade that sent Lauri Markkanen to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Larry Nance Jr. to the Trail Blazers included the Bulls receiving Derrick Jones Jr., a Cavaliers second-rounder (which will be handed to the NBA if conveyed), and a lottery-protected first-round pick from the Trail Blazers.
As it stands today, the Trail Blazers are 16-24 and 9th in the ‘tank’ standings. In other words, if the season ended today, the Blazers would be one of the 14 teams in the draft lottery, and the pick would not convey. Combine that already rough record with an extended Damian Lillard absence, and it feels like the Blazers’ will surely own a spot in the top-14.
Fortunately, the pick Chicago acquired is protected through the 2028 season, so the Bulls would have the same thing to look forward to next season (and every season after that until the 2028 NBA Draft or until it conveys). Now, if the pick doesn’t convey by that time, it will turn into a second-rounder.
The problem for the Bulls here, outside of not having a second first-rounder in the upcoming NBA draft, is they lose value on a potential trade chip. While this pick can still be moved in the future or potentially still coveted by some organizations, there is no question it loses a bit of short-term value for any franchise that is starving for a first-rounder in 2022. So for a Bulls team that might want to add more proven talent for a playoff push, this could turn out to be frustrating news.
Elias Schuster contributed to this post.