Three Northwest Division teams are on track to make the playoffs, but only one of them is sending any players to the All-Star Game. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will represent the first-place Thunder, and they're joined by LaMarcus Aldridge of the Trail Blazers, the Northwest's other All-Star whose Portland team hits the break three games out of the last playoff spot in the West. All three All-Stars are making noise as the events begin in Houston, where James Harden, the Thunder's erstwhile third All-Star, plays the role of unofficial host. Here's more on all of them:
- Aldridge will have the chance this weekend to try to recruit some fellow All-Stars to the Blazers, and he said his pitch will center on the team's fans, its young core of players and this summer's cap space, which could exceed $13MM, as Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com writes.
- Westbrook and Durant acknowledged that the Thunder haven't missed a beat following the Harden trade, notes Jason McDaniel of the Houston Chronicle. "We’re different, but I think we’re just as good," Durant said. "James, don’t get me wrong, he’s a phenomenal player, but we lost him and we got Kevin Martin back, who’s a really good player as well. And I think for the passing ability that we lost with James, and his defense, we make up for it with Russell and myself, and the guys on the bench that help.”
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman chronicles Harden's remarks to reporters on his feelings about Durant and Westbrook and what it will be like to play with his old teammates at the All-Star Game, among other topics.