When the Milwaukee Bucks picked up Damian Lillard, they were expected to make a lot of noise in the East. Unfortunately for the Bucks, that never really happened. Milwaukee had an interesting season as they decided to fire Mike Budenholzer during the season even though the team was doing well. Doc Rivers took over as head coach, and the transition for him was difficult. He recently told a story about Lillard that happened when he first became head coach.

It was surprising to see the Bucks move on from Mike Budenholzer during the season like they did, and it certainly made things difficult on Doc Rivers and the whole team. That definitely contributed to the team's shortcomings this season, and Rivers recently revealed something else that contributed during an appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast.

Damian Lillard knew that there was a chance that he was going to get traded last offseason, so he didn't want to get injured. Because of that, he wasn't in the best shape heading into the season.

Doc Rivers: “You know it's funny because I was podcasting with you and  golfing with Larry (David), I didn't even realize that Dame (Damian Lillard) was traded two or three days before training camp right. And so Dame was telling me, we were at dinner, and he said ‘coach I didn't work out all summer, it's the first time in my life that I've not worked out. I was so scared of getting injured working out.'”

Bill Simmons: “Oh because he was a possible trade yeah.”

Damian Lillard was honest with Doc Rivers

Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) holds the ball while Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard (2) defends during game six of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
© Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

That's a lot of time to take off, so when the season started to get going, Damian Lillard wasn't in great shape. Still, he was honest with Doc Rivers, and that is one thing that Rivers loves most about him.

“He knew he was gonna get traded so he said you know ‘I did some light running, I did some shooting with no one in the gym, but I didn't go at all.' He said ‘I'm out of shape', and he was honest about it,” Rivers said. “That's one of the reasons you love him because he is honest. He said ‘this is the worst shape I've ever been in', you know when you start camp that way you don't ever get in shape you never catch up.”

That made things hard on Lillard last year. Like Rivers said, that makes it very difficult to catch up.

Lillard's numbers did go down quite a bit from the year prior, and not being in good shape could've played a role in that. He averaged over 32 PPG during his last season with the Portland Trailblazers, but this past year with the Bucks, he averaged just over 24.

The Bucks ended up going down in the first round of the playoffs against the Indiana Pacers. Milwaukee ended up having a fine regular season and they got the three seed in the East, but injuries hit them big time in the postseason. Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo were both dealing with injuries during that series with the Pacers.

Hopefully Lillard can resume his normal offseason workout plan and come back strong next year.