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Damian Lillard Reportedly Takes Notable Step Toward Return

Damian Lillard pointing during a game.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 03: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers reacts against the Charlotte Hornets during their game at Spectrum Center on March 03, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The Portland Trail Blazers have been without Damian Lillard for the last week as the star point guard nurses an abdominal injury that's bothered him throughout the 2021-22 season.

However, a report on Wednesday indicates that the 6-time All-Star could be back on the court as soon as this weekend.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Lillard underwent a cortisone injection procedure to his abdominal last week in order to ease the pain of the injury. The pain in the abdominal, which the 31-year-old revealed has been affecting him for a number of seasons, had reportedly reached a "heightened point" before the procedure.

Lillard is scheduled to be reevaluated on Friday and could be cleared to play as early as Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, per Haynes.

It's been just a week since the Blazers announced on Dec. 1 that Lillard would miss the next 10 days with lower abdominal tendinopathy. The All-NBA point guard has already missed five games this season and will miss a sixth on Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors.

Lillard has had a rather frustrating year when he has been on the court for the Blazers. The 31-year-old is averaging 21.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.8 assists in 20 games, while shooting career lows of 39.7 percent from the floor and 30.2 percent from beyond the arc.

On top of that, Lillard's name has started to emerge in trade rumors once again. With an ongoing regime change in the organization's front office and a lackluster, 11-14 start for the Blazers, many have begun to wonder if the All-Star point guard will force his way out of Portland.

Lillard has firmly denied the trade rumors, but they'll likely linger if the team continues to struggle. All the 31-year-old can do is focus on getting healthy and hope to improve Portland's playoff chances once he returns to action.