Western Notes: Aldridge, Williams, Thunder

Damian Lillard is confident that his Trail Blazers teammate LaMarcus Aldridge, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, will remain in Portland, Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com writes. “I don’t have any reason to believe why he wouldn’t be back here,” Lillard said. Aldridge has been the subject of several recent reports that have tied him to the Spurs, Mavericks and Knicks. Aldridge has played for only Portland since he was drafted in 2006. On Sunday, Holmes notes, Aldridge declined to answer questions about his future. “I’m focused on winning right now,” Aldridge said.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Pelicans coach Monty Williams, who has one year remaining on his contract and a team option beyond next year, deserves to lead New Orleans for the next two seasons, Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune opines. It was Williams’ tactical gumption that propelled the Pelicans into the playoffs this year, Smith writes. Under Williams, the Pelicans finished 45-37 this season, winning 11 more games than the previous season. There were reports last month that the Pelicans would evaluate Williams, who has received support from players, after the season. Williams was reportedly under pressure earlier this season, his fifth as coach of the Pelicans.
  • The next coach of the Thunder won’t be someone with a flamboyant personality, and instead will have a blue-collar work ethic, a humble demeanor and well-known success with the clipboard, Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman writes. Whoever replaces Scott Brooks will have to embrace the “Thunder Way,” Mayberry adds. “We have a pretty clear identity of the type of person and specific vision for that role going forward,” said Thunder GM Sam Presti. Florida’s Billy Donovan is a leading candidate for the job.

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