Western Notes: Rockets, Thunder, McLemore

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said he won’t judge coach Kevin McHale merely by how far the team goes in the playoffs this year and expressed support for the front office as he spoke with Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Alexander pointed to Trevor Ariza and Kostas Papanikolaou as key additions in an offseason that, as the owner acknowledged, didn’t go as planned.

“It was a very difficult offseason,” Alexander said. “There were big decisions that really didn’t go our way. It was tough. It was tough going through it and hoping you’d be able to rebound and have a really good team. I liked the moves that we made. And we still have flexibility to make other moves, which I believe is important.”

The Rockets, with a league-best 5-0 record, put that unbeaten mark on the line tonight against a Spurs team that plans to rest Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Thunder would likely apply for a second hardship provision, which would give them a 17th roster spot, if they expect that a knee injury that Perry Jones III suffered Tuesday will force him to miss a significant amount of time, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. The team is poised to make Ish Smith its 16th player.
  • Ben McLemore has hired the Klutch Sports Group for his representation, the agency announced (Twitter link). The second-year shooting guard recently left agent Rodney Blackstock. Klutch has close ties to the Cavs, but the earliest McLemore could reach unrestricted free agency by his own choosing would be the summer of 2018.
  • Flip Saunders said uncertainty over the Timberwolves roster this summer prior to the Kevin Love trade helped keep him from hiring Lionel Hollins as Minnesota’s coach, observes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. Saunders said he couldn’t promise Hollins, who interviewed for the coaching job that Saunders ultimately took for himself, that the Wolves would have the sort of veteran roster that Hollins is accustomed to, as Bontemps notes.
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