Coincidence or Prophecy? Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard visited Philadelphia on Thursday for abdominal surgery. Lillard exited the proceedings “with a good feeling,” per Chris Haynes from Yahoo! Sports. Lillard will be reevaluated in five to six weeks.
That was the The end of the story until Philadelphia 76ers fans got wind of it. Lillard had been the coveted target of Sixers’ Brass since August, when reports first surfaced that Ben Simmons wanted a trade. The six-time All-Star is considered one of the best point guards in the NBA. Lillard, not Simmons. And Philly faithful serenaded him with “We Want Lillard” chants on November 2 at the Wells Fargo Center.
“I know what it is and I know what it’s about. But I’m a trailblazer,” Lillard said at the time. “I appreciate love. I appreciate the respect they have shown and desire or whatever… I’m 10 toes in Rip City.
But Portland has underperformed all year and sits 10th in the Western Conference at 16-24. They’re not a good basketball team right now. And Lillard had missed eight games while dealing with abdominal tendinopathy before opting for surgery. Needless to say, the rumor mill is asking the 2013 Rookie of the Year for a trade, though he refutes every single report.
“People say, ‘Lady is frustrated.’ I’m frustrated with losing and not doing my best,” Lillard told Marc J. Spears. “But that doesn’t mean I’m mad at my team and looking elsewhere. It’s never been me.”
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dr William C. Meyers is arguably the best surgeon for core muscle injuries (note: Don’t call them athletic hernias) in the world. Pro athletes travel to Philly to see it in the blink of an eye. So it’s no surprise that Lillard chose Meyers for his surgery. The timing was certainly interesting though.
The Simmons rumors have reached warp speed with the NBA trade deadline less than a month away. His agent, Rich Paul, met with Sixers president Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand on Wednesday to discuss the never-ending standoff. There was no resolution, including a report that the Sixers had increased the asking price.
Paul stayed in Philly after his lunch session with the Sixers bosses to watch the Sixers play the Hornets. That means Simmons’ agent was in town at the same time Lillard was scheduled for surgery. It is not excluded to believe that all three sides had a meeting. Well, that’s the optimistic theory among Sixers fans who happily took to Twitter en masse.
Maybe one was buried under all the trade rumors Nuggets by Doc Rivers about Simmons showing up at the practice facility the past few days. The Sixers head coach wasn’t sure what it means to move forward, but it’s certainly something to monitor. Philly hopes for a reconciliation.
“He’s coming into the (training) facility, but I don’t know what that means right now,” Rivers said of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Hopefully we’ll have an answer sooner or later.”
The Sixers have stopped punishing him since he began seeing a team-appointed therapist for his alleged mental health issues. Simmons hasn’t commented publicly on anything, preferring to leak his agent’s stuff to the press. Stay tuned.