The Trail Blazers are playoff-bound, though they’ll have a higher seed than their record shows they deserve because they won the Northwest Division. If the Thunder lose or the Pelicans win tonight, Portland will be the Northwest’s only playoff representative. Here’s more from a division that’s proven a drag on the Western Conference’s claim to supremacy this season:
- It was obvious to opposing front office executives that the Jazz were under a ton of pressure to trade Enes Kanter at the deadline, as one of those executives tells Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, adding that the Jazz were only seeking a pick for the now-Thunder center. Kanter, a restricted free agent this summer, had pushed for a trade, and when Utah accommodated him, the Jazz received a lottery-protected first-rounder, a second-rounder and the rights to a draft-and-stash prospect along with Kendrick Perkins and Grant Jerrett.
- Chauncey Billups tells Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post that Timberwolves coach/executive Flip Saunders reached out to him last spring with the idea of making him the team’s lead assistant this season and its head coach for 2015/16. Billups reiterated to Kiszla that while he’d “never say never,” he doesn’t want to coach. The retired point guard would rather work as a team executive, and Kiszla urges the Nuggets to pursue him for such a role. Denver wanted to hire Billups for a front office job before this season, as the Post’s Christopher Dempsey wrote in October.
- Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune suggests that Minnesota’s trade for Kevin Garnett is more about ticket sales than Garnett’s on-court impact or his influence on prize rookie Andrew Wiggins. Garnett has played only five games since returning to the Wolves.