Western Notes: Suns, Wolves, Bryant, Kanter

The Suns can blame their lackluster defense for their current four game losing streak, opines Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. New addition Isaiah Thomas feels the team’s mentality is reason for the current slide. “We’re just not bringing it every night, plain and simple,” said Thomas. “I don’t know what it is but we’re not bringing it. We’re not playing with that attitude like,’We need this win.’ That’s got to change or we’re going to dig ourselves a hole.” Even with Phoenix’s current struggles, the team resides in eighth place in the Western Conference with a record of 12-12.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Kings assigned Eric Moreland to the Reno Bighorns of the D-League, according to the RealGM transactions log.  Moreland, who has been yo-yoed a bit this season, was with the Kings for just one day on this latest stint.
  • Although Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders doesn’t agree with Magic Johnson’s plea for the Lakers to lose in order to secure a high draft pick, he understands the benefit to the strategy, writes Michael Rand of the Star Tribune. “I’m never a proponent to just say tank games or lose games. You’re letting players off the hook. Depending on who you have out there, you might not have to worry about it. … I know what Magic is saying, and I’m sure it’s how most people look at it: If you’re not going to be a playoff team, you’re better off getting as high a (draft) pick as you can,” said Saunders during an interview with Rand.  Minnesota currently sits in last place in the Western Conference with a record of 5-17.
  • Kobe Bryant may be on the verge of a huge milestone, being only eight points behind Michael Jordan to become the NBA’s third all-time leading scorer, yet he had bigger plans for the season when he signed his two year $48.5MM extension, writes Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Daily News. Heisler opines that Bryant’s quest for another title is a lost cause due to the team’s current roster and Bryant’s expected retirement at the end of the 2015/16 season. The team certainly thinks this contract will be the last for one of the greatest Lakers of all time. “All indications are to me, from him, that this is going to be it,” GM Mitch Kupchak said. “If somebody’s thinking of buying a ticket three years from now to see Kobe play, I would not do that.”
  • Center Enes Kanter is making huge strides this season for the Jazz, writes Jody Genessy of the Deseret News. Kanter, who is set to become a restricted free agent after the season, enjoys playing under first year head coach Quin Snyder.

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