Northwest Notes: Batum, Malone, Singler

Nicolas Batum‘s former Trail Blazers teammates Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have fond memories of the small forward whom Portland traded to the Hornets this past summer, and Batum admits it will be “weird” Friday when Charlotte plays at Portland, The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman observes. Batum is a free agent at season’s end, and the Blazers will have plenty of cap space this summer, but there’s been no talk of a reunion.

“He was a really good teammate,” Lillard said. “I always remember my rookie year and my second year, when it would get to five minutes or less in the game, he would always come tap me on my back and be like, ‘Dame, it’s your time. Take over the game.’ Just being so young and having somebody who’s been a part of this team come to me and have that much confidence, that always meant a lot to me. He was always that type of person. He was unselfish. Just a good dude to play with.”

See more from the Northwest Division:

  • Michael Malone still stings from having been fired from the Kings in 2014, but he’s fully engaged with the Nuggets and he and former Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro, who was Malone’s boss at the time of the firing and is now in the Nuggets front office, don’t feel any “angst or hate” toward one another, Malone tells Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports.
  • Thunder coach Billy Donovan has said repeatedly that he’s a fan of what Kyle Singler can do on defense with his 6’8″ body, and the absence of the injured Andre Roberson will challenge Singler to live up to the five-year, $24.3MM deal he signed this past summer, observes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman.
  • Tyus Jones hasn’t played in 12 consecutive games for the Timberwolves, but he’s not complaining, and he prefers sitting on the bench and getting practice reps with his NBA teammates to playing on D-League assignment, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune details. The rookie spent much of December with the Jazz D-League affiliate.

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