Both CJ McCollum (foot) and Jusuf Nurkic (wrist) are due to be reassessed on March 2, and the results of those evaluations will be crucial for a Trail Blazers team looking to make a second-half push, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. The hope is that McCollum and Nurkic will be able to return shortly after the All-Star break to complement Damian Lillard, who says he thinks about his missing teammates constantly.
“Maybe y’all haven’t been doing that, but I do that all the time,” Lillard said. “I don’t think you have two players at the level those guys are and not go into a game thinking of them.
“… You always see moments where they can help the team and impact the game,” he continued. “It hasn’t been just the last two games (both losses). Even when we were winning, those weren’t running-away wins. Those were down-to-the-wire wins, so even in those games, it was like, man, it would have been good to have those guys out there.”
Here’s more from around the Northwest:
- The Thunder may be without wing Hamidou Diallo for the rest of the first half, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman, who says Diallo has been ruled out for at least the next two games due to a right groin injury.
- While he may prefer to be playing for a contender, big man Al Horford has embraced his role as a leader for the rebuilding Thunder since being acquired in an offseason trade, Mussatto writes in a separate story for The Oklahoman. “We have a great group of guys,” Horford said. “It’s something that has really impressed me since I’ve gotten here, just the willingness of our group to work, to focus, to try to be better. It makes it easier for me. It motivates me to be there for them and try to help them in any way that I can.”
- Following the Timberwolves‘ swift hiring of Chris Finch as Ryan Saunders‘ full-time replacement, the National Basketball Coaches Association criticized the team for not conducting a “thorough and transparent search of candidates from a wide range of diverse backgrounds,” as Chris Hine of The Star Tribune outlines.