Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard underwent abdominal surgery on Thursday and will miss at least the next six weeks of the NBA season

Los Angeles (AFP) - Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard will miss at least the next six weeks of the NBA season after undergoing abdominal surgery Thursday, the club announced.

The operation was performed in Philadelphia to repair what the team called in a statement “a core injury causing chronic abdominal pain.”

Lillard, who last played in a December 31 road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, will be re-evaluated in six weeks.

In 29 games this season, all as a starter, Lillard has averaged 24.0 points (14th in the NBA), 4.1 rebounds and 7.3 assists per contest.

The injury had been bothering the 31-year-old six-time NBA All-Star since he helped the United States win a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last August.

“At the Olympics it was as bad as it has been and I was just like ‘Man, this is a real issue,’” Lillard said in a posting on the Blazers website.

“I took like 30 days where I didn’t do nothing and I felt a lot better coming into camp. It hadn’t been giving me any trouble because I was coming off such a long break.

“Then I started to feel it again and I was like ‘Man, I thought the rest would help for a longer period of time.’ But it didn’t.”

Lillard has missed 11 games this season for the Trail Blazers, who rank 10th in the Western Conference at 16-24.

“I know (surgery) is ultimately going to be what’s best for the team,” said Lillard on the team website. “I would rather be selfish for the team, what I see for our organization and where I want it to go.

“It’s like, all right, take a step back to take how many steps forward. It’s just what had to happen.”

Lillard would return at the earliest right after the NBA All-Star Game break next month, which would be six weeks before the conclusion of the NBA season.