Russell Westbrook missed Thursday’s game against the Lakers, but the Rockets don’t anticipate him sitting out for long. Westbrook, who is dealing with a quad contusion, is expected to play Sunday against the Kings, coach Mike D’Antoni told Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link) and other media members. Fellow guard Eric Gordon, who hasn’t played in any games since the restart due to a sprained ankle, is expected to return sometime before the end of the seeding games, MacMahon adds.
We have more from the Western Conference:
- The Lakers have shot just 24.3% from long range since the resumption of play, but forward Kyle Kuzma has been one of the exceptions, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register notes. Kuzma is averaging 14.4 PPG while making nearly half (12 for 26) of his 3-point attempts. “I’m a little more healthier, but I’ve had time to really just put in work,” he said. Kuzma is eligible for a rookie scale extension after the season.
- The Suns found a creative way to reduce their commitment to guard Cameron Payne, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. His $1.98MM salary for next season has a team option but only $25K is guaranteed if the Suns exercise it. Thus, Payne is essentially on a non-guaranteed contract next year even if the option is picked up, Marks adds. The Suns signed Payne to a two-year contract in late June.
- Kings coach Luke Walton insists he still has faith in Buddy Hield, whose lucrative four-year extension kicks in next season. As Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee notes, Hield logged a season-low 11 minutes and matched his season low with three points against New Orleans on Thursday. “Buddy still has my trust and we need him,” Walton said. “We’re going to need him to come off (the bench) and provide that scoring punch that he’s done for us for most of the season. So it was hopefully just a one-game thing there as far as where those minutes were, but he’s a big part of our team.”