Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard on load management: ‘I don’t think we have the luxury’

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers

NBA teams have started to accept load management as a way to prevent stars from being worn down over the course of a long season, but Portland doesn’t seem keen on adopting this method.

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard doesn’t think his team can afford to take nights off in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

“We’re not some big super team,” Lillard told The Oregonian. “So I don’t think we have the luxury to sit out, especially with how competitive the West is going to be.”

While the Trail Blazers did make some roster changes over the summer, they couldn’t match the blockbuster moves other teams made.

The Rockets added Russell Westbrook to pair with James Harden, giving them arguably one of the best backcourts in the league, while the Lakers got Anthony Davis to co-star with LeBron James.

The Clippers brought in Paul George and 2019 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard — who became known for using load management last season after appearing in just 60 games.

Portland guard CJ McCollum echoed Lillard’s sentiments, saying he would rather not let strategic rest hurt his team’s playoff push.

“The race in the Western Conference is extremely tight. I don’t know if we can afford to ‘Kawhi it,’ so to speak,” McCollum said. “You’ll Kawhi your way out of the playoffs.”

The Trail Blazers finished third in the Western Conference last year, after posting a 53-29 record and advancing to the conference finals before being swept by the Warriors.

Portland’s aware the NBA’s landscape is shifting and wants to be prepared to adjust if needed.

“We’re all cognizant that the dynamics of the team has changed, the makeup of the team is different,” coach Terry Stotts said. “So we have to do things a little different. We have to be open to change and they have to be open to change, too.”