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Doc: Lillard entered 1st Bucks season in 'worst shape'

Andrew D. Bernstein / National Basketball Association / Getty

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Doc Rivers says Damian Lillard wasn't in proper physical condition in the leadup to the 2023-24 campaign as he awaited a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers.

"I didn't even realize Dame was traded two or three days before training camp. ... 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,'" Rivers said Thursday during an appearance on "The Bill Simmons Podcast."

"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 (hard) at all.' ... He was honest about it, and that's one of the reasons you love him. He said, 'This is the worst shape I've ever been in.'"

Lillard was dealt to the Bucks in September 2023 following 11 seasons in Portland. He sat out Milwaukee's first two preseason contests before suiting up nearly three weeks after his blockbuster acquisition for the remainder of their exhibition schedule.

The 33-year-old still earned his eighth All-Star nod and made 73 regular-season appearances. However, Lillard's efficiency from deep and the field overall dropped from the previous campaign.

Lillard also missed two postseason games during the Bucks' first-round series against the Indiana Pacers after aggravating an Achilles injury sustained during the final regular-season contest.

Rivers said Lillard is already preparing for the upcoming campaign, training twice daily and losing weight.

"When you start camp that way, you don't ever get in shape," Rivers said. "You never catch up, and he felt that way ... He's so proud that he's already in great shape right now, which is amazing.

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