Injured Damian Lillard suggests Devin Booker as All-Star replacement
In the Portland Trail Blazers’ final game before the NBA All-Star break, point guard Damian Lillard went down with a groin injury.
The guard is scheduled to play in not only the All-Star Game, but in the 3-Point Contest as well.
Now injured, Lillard’s chances of making it to the hardwood in Chicago seem very slim.
He said so himself after the game. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes, Lillard will spend the All-Star weekend recovering to better prepare himself for a second-half playoff push.
Lillard even took it a step further, not only saying he won’t be able to play, but giving a name of the player who should be considered as his replacement.
That player? None other than Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker.
Damian Lillard injured his groin in the final minutes of the Blazers loss to the Grizzlies on Wednesday. Deciding to put his health first, Lillard confirmed in the postgame locker room that he will not participate in the All-Star Game or 3pt contest. #RipCity pic.twitter.com/PNOTtXoMbG
— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) February 13, 2020
“Hopefully somebody who should’ve been there who didn’t make it. Unfortunately I had to be the fall guy. Hopefully Devin Booker or somebody like that’ll get the spot,” Lillard told reporters.
While nothing is set in stone — no one has been officially named Lillard’s replacement as of Wednesday night — it would give Booker another shot at making the All-Star Game that many felt he was snubbed on.
“He’s a good man, pretty perceptive, I’ve always liked him,” head coach Monty Williams told reporters when told about Lillard’s suggestion. “Ever since my Chicago meeting with him on pre-draft I thought that guy — I would follow any advice that he gave me. Damian Lillard, good dude.
“It’s well documented what we feel about Devin, but it’s also well documented what he did to deserve the opportunity to represent the Suns in the All-Star Game. When you put up those kinds of numbers, you play with Deandre [Ayton] for almost 30 games, you carry a team and we won 22 games before the All-Star Break. It says a lot about his commitment to the program, his craft and what he did on the floor. … What he’s done speaks for itself … when the players recognize that, it’s huge.”
You won’t find many with a better argument to head to Chicago than Booker.
Entering play Wednesday, Booker was averaging 26.4 points (10th in the NBA), 6.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 35.8 minutes per game. He’s also shooting 55.9% from the field, a career high, and 36.1% from long range.
In the team’s final game before the All-Star break, Booker made eight of his 22 shots for 27 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
As for Booker’s thoughts on the matter?
“It means a lot, I’ve always said respect for my peers is my main focus and goal in this NBA,” Booker told reporters in the locker room after the game. “But at the same time, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. I don’t know the criteria or what happens next. I guess we’ll wait and see.
“I have to do some talking with my family, I think probably [I would accept],” Booker added when talking to Fox Sports Arizona. “But right now I want to reach out to Dame and make sure he’s healthy and make sure his injury is not that serious. That’s what I’m worried about right now.”
Lillard wasn’t the only one thinking Booker, either, as both Trae Young and Jamal Crawford added their two cents to the conversation.
Sad to hear about Dames injury…😓 but that automatically means D Book is in… Right? 🤔👀
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) February 13, 2020
Hate to see anyone get hurt, but if Dame can’t go, I hope Book gets that spot!
— 🏁 Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) February 13, 2020