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NOT EVERYONE WANTS THE SAME THING Lillard won't play if it's “meaningless games”


On Friday, the NBA Board of Governors will convene to vote on continuing the ‘19/’20 season - that’s the deadline to iron out all the details. We covered the most likely scenarios yesterday, and reactions are starting to pour in. As we mentioned before, not all players are ready to jump back on the court regardless of the format. We can now add Damian Lillard on that list. 

The Blazers had a lot of injuries bad luck combined with no cap flexibility. That’s why a team everyone saw in the playoffs found itself fighting for a chance to make a late surge and overtake the Memphis Grizzlies. Just as their starting center Jusuf Nurkić and power forward Zach Collins were ready to come back, the season was suspended. Add to the fact that the Blazers had one of the weakest strengths of schedule remaining, and you can understand how frustrating their position is. 

One important fact to know - not all players know what the NBPA (player’s union) and the NBA are negotiating about. As Brian Windhorst mentioned on Sports Center, a lot of players are reaching out to reporters to find out what’s likely to happen. The main question on everyone’s mind is - what kind of format are we looking at here? We could have a play-in tournament for teams with a chance to get in, or some regular-season games just to give players a chance to play some basketball before the playoffs (and get more TV revenue in). If it’s the latter, Lillard made his position clear. 

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“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. But I’m not going to be participating. I’m telling you that right now. And you can put that in there.

Damian Lillard, Yahoo! Sports

Not every team (or player) wants the same thing. Depending on their placement in the rankings and plans, some teams like the Warriors would be fine in calling the whole thing off, while others like the Blazers want to return there’s a chance to get into the playoffs. Obviously, teams that could lose their spots like the Grizzlies or Magic don’t want a play-in tournament. 

This is something NBPA President Chris Paul and managing director Michelle Robers have to take into account when negotiating with Adam Silver. Feel out the majority opinion and iron out a proposal in the next few days; a proposal not everyone is going to be happy with within the union. There’s an important detail to keep in mind here.

“One thing Michelle Roberts told Ramona Shelbourne, which is very important. The players may be willing to go forward without holding a vote. That means that they’re putting incredible trust in Adam Silver and incredible trust in Chris Paul to work this out.”

Brian Windhorst, SportsCenter

Having a vote would prolong the negotiations and make the outcome more uncertain. This is where having a history of trust, and respect becomes precious. Not everyone is going to be happy with the format, whatever it is. But there won’t be a lot of doubt the deal was done in good faith.

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