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Procedure addresses nagging injury; Trail Blazers' star guard to be re-evaluated in six weeks.

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard underwent abdominal surgery on Thursday.Damian Lillard underwent surgery Thursday, Jan. 13, in Philadelphia to correct the abdominal injury that has persisted for the Trail Blazers' guard.

He will be evaluated in six weeks to determine how he is healing and when he might be able to return to the court.

Lillard has missed 11 of Portland's 40 games to rest the injury.

The Blazers were 16-24 entering a Thursday game at Denver. They sit 10th in the Western Conference, one game up on Sacramento for the final spot in the play-in round for one of the final playoff spots. But Portland is only 2-13 on the road, where it plays 10 of its next 12 games. With that schedule, and with its star on the shelf for an undetermined length of time, it seems more likely the club falls lower in the standings than makes a playoff push.

The decision for Lillard to have surgery — performed by Dr. William C. Meyers at The Vincera Institute — adds to the Blazers' challenges in the second half of the season. But the decision makes sense, long term, for both Lillard and the club because Portland would be unlikely to have any sustained success if its best player isn't healthy.

In 29 games, Lillard is averaging 24 points, 7.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds while playing 36 minutes a game.

Lillard's absence should mean more extended minutes for Anfernee Simons. Simons (expected to miss the game at Denver for personal reasons) has played well in five starts since Lillard began resting, averaging almost 28 points and eight assists a game.

The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 10. Portland is expected to be active in the trade market. With Lillard's status for the remainder of the year in doubt, it will be interesting to watch how interim general manager Joe Cronin and coach Chauncey Billups approach remaking the roster. Do they make small tweaks, anticipating Lillard's return to health? Or do they look for more significant moves with an eye toward setting up the franchise for next season and beyond?


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