With the Grizzlies and Warriors not playing their best ball as of late, another team has quietly passed them in the standings and assumed the fourth seed in the Western Conference: the Nuggets. Heading into tonight's game against the Bulls, Denver has won seven straight, and has posted a 21-3 record at home. The Lakers/Celtics matchup will draw most of the headlines, but it may be that late game at the Pepsi Center that turns into the evening's best contest.
As we look forward to tonight's action, here are a few notes out of the Northwest Division:
- Although he's played out of position at center for much of the season, J.J. Hickson has excelled with the Trail Blazers, and is increasing his chances of landing a big deal in unrestricted free agency this summer, according to Jeff Caplan of NBA.com. "I’d be lying if I wasn’t looking forward to it, but that’s something I’ll get more excited about when that period hits," Hickson said. "It’s something that me and my agent will talk about, but right now I’m just worried about playing basketball and trying to make these playoffs."
- Commissioner David Stern is involved in Minnesota's plan to refurbish the Target Center and remains apprised on Glen Taylor's process of eventually selling the Timberwolves, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune writes.
- In his latest mailbag for the Denver Post, Benjamin Hochman fields multiple questions on trade possibilities for the Nuggets, discussing Timofey Mozgov, Jordan Hamilton, and the team's $13MM trade exception.
- Karl Malone is willing to work for free if it means getting a chance to join the Jazz's coaching staff as an assistant, says Jody Genessy of the Deseret News.