Northwest Notes: Aldridge, Kanter, Muhammad

LaMarcus Aldridge figures to be among the most sought-after free agents this summer, but he tells reporters, including Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders that recruiting by other players at All-Star weekend hasn’t started yet. The Trail Blazers forward may be hearing a few pitches at tonight’s festivities. Aldridge is among the most productive players in the league, averaging 23.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, and gained a new level of respect by delaying surgery on an injured thumb so he could keep playing. He cited “winning and being happy” as his top priorities in free agency. “I want to like the management and feel comfortable that they are going to do the right things to keep winning,” Aldridge said, “and I want to spend my time with an organization where I love what they’re doing and where they’re going.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Enes Kanter‘s trade request this week caught some of his Jazz  teammates by surprise, reports Jody Genessy of The Deseret News“Sometimes guys hold things in, they bottle things [up] and … just got to let what they really feel go,” said Trey Burke. “I’m not saying I agree with it. At the same time, I’m not one of those guys to get super angry about it.” Kanter, unhappy with his reduction in playing time since the emergence of Rudy Gobert, was on the floor for just 18 minutes in Wednesday’s loss to Dallas. Kanter makes nearly $5.7MM this season and can become a restricted free agent in July.
  • Kanter’s unhappiness isn’t necessarily bad for the Jazz, argues Brad Rock of The Deseret News. Rock contends it’s a sign that the team is improving. Kanter, who Utah took third overall in the 2011 NBA draft, hasn’t fallen in the rotation because he’s playing poorly. It has happened because Gobert and others are contributing more. If the Jazz do find a taker for Kanter, Rock would like to see them pick up a shooting guard to replace Alec Burks, who is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his injured left shoulder.
  • Getting in better shape and improving his attitude has made Shabazz Muhammad a rising star with the Timberwolves, writes Jabari Davis of Basketball Insiders. Muhammad, who has tripled his minutes and scoring average in his second season, said a D-League stint last year helped him gain confidence that he could play at the NBA level.

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