Western Rumors: Lin, Nuggets, Matthews

Jeremy Lin will start the remainder of the season but it probably won’t affect the Lakers’ decision whether to re-sign the veteran point guard, according to Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.  Oram writes that many people around the league believe it’s a given that Lin, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, will sign elsewhere. Coach Byron Scott told Lakers beat reporters that the team’s draft choices will affect Lin’s chances of returning. “It’s just a matter of what happens in the draft and everything else that determines what we’re going to do with the free agent market,” Scott said.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Interim coach Melvin Hunt has taken an upbeat approach to improve the Nuggets, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reports. Hunt has used positive reinforcement to inspire his players, a stark contrast to predecessor Brian Shaw, who often criticized players in his postgame press conferences, Kyler continues. Ty Lawson told Kyler that he appreciated the change in philosophy. “He is giving everybody confidence,” Lawson said. “He is a very upbeat person. I think he just wants everybody to succeed; you feel it when he walks into the room and when he talks to us. He has us all on the same page, that’s helping us out right now.”
  • Wesley Matthews‘ season-ending Achilles injury has had a major impact on the Trail Blazers’ defense, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes. Portland has gone 3-5 since Matthews suffered the injury and its defense has ranked 27th in defensive efficiency in those games, allowing 110.5 points per 100 possessions, Richman notes. The Blazers were No. 3 in that category up to that point, Richman adds. While all of the Blazers’ defensive problems cannot be attributed to Matthews’ absence, backcourt partner Damian Lillard tells Richman that he definitely sees a difference. “His ability to lock guys up defensively and kind of spark us at that end of the floor,” Lillard said of what the team is lacking. “His passion. Just the fire that he brought to our team is something that we definitely miss.”
  • Jazz coach Quin Snyder is less concerned about making the playoffs than showing improvement the remainder of the season, Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News reports. Utah has made a late run but Snyder isn’t worried about wins and losses, McDonald adds. “I don’t think playoff awareness is necessarily going to improve our play as much as a focus on game to game, moment to moment,” Snyder said. 

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