Western Notes: Clarkson, Thomas, Wolves

With a trade looming that will send Kevin Love to Cleveland, the many Western Conference contenders will have a more daunting team to potentially face in the Finals, and the Bulls are set to improve mightily as well. Still, the West features more proven juggernauts like the Spurs and Thunder at this stage. Here’s a look around the stronger conference:

  • Jordan Clarkson is expected to sign with the Lakers before training camp, reports Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times. Clarkson was Los Angeles’ 46th pick in this year’s draft.
  • It appears DeShaun Thomas will play another year overseas, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reports the Spurs 2013 second-round pick is close to signing with an Italian team.
  • John Zitzler of Basketball Insiders says it’s time for Ricky Rubio to take on a leadership role for the Wolves now that Love is departing. Rubio has dazzled as a distributor, but will have to improve as a shooter to help Minnesota recover from the loss of Love, writes Zitzler.
  • Meanwhile, expectations will be sky high for Andrew Wiggins, whom the Wolves will acquire in the Love deal. Bill Self, who coached Wiggins at Kansas, tells Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune that the wing will be great, but still needs to be pushed. “He absolutely was too nice [before arriving at Kansas],” said Self. “And he’s still too nice. [Wolves coach Flip Saunders] will have to get more of that dog in him. He’s just young.’’
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