The rash of frontcourt injuries suffered by the Rockets led to the team’s acquisition of Josh Smith from the Clippers on Friday, notes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The team hopes it will get back the services of Donatas Motiejunas in the near future, but with the big man being at least a week away from resuming basketball activities, GM Daryl Morey decided to add Smith as insurance, Feigen adds. “Long term, we expect D-Mo to be back and be able to help us,” interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Where we are now, we felt we needed to do something to light a fire and keep us afloat. There are so many guys injured, we felt we could use the help at that position and it was an easy one for us because we’ve seen what he can do.”
Here’s more from out West:
- Nuggets center Joffrey Lauvergne has seen his playing time drop with the return of Jusuf Nurkic from injury, but the 24-year-old remains a part of Denver’s future, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. “With Joffrey, what I told him was whether you play … or you don’t play, I just want to reinforce to you how much we value you,” coach Michael Malone said. “Not just me but also [GM] Tim [Connelly]. He’s a big part of what we’re doing, but long term he’s a big part of what we want to do. We believe in Joffrey Lauvergne. It’s tough for him to hear that and not get the minutes that he’s not getting at the moment, but you feel bad for guys like that because Joffrey is one of our hardest workers.“
- Despite being the NBA’s youngest player, Suns shooting guard Devin Booker has shown constant improvement this season and is one of the top performing rookies, something the player credits to coach Jeff Hornacek‘s faith in him, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic writes.
- With the Timberwolves squarely out of the playoff picture the team should focus on seeing which lineups work the best for their young players, including finding additional playing time for Shabazz Muhammad, who has been underutilized this season, according to Danny Leroux of RealGM. It should be a priority for Minnesota to find out which players and lineup combinations work best heading into the summer, plus, it would also allow the front office to better gauge interim coach Sam Mitchell‘s ability to develop players, Leroux adds.