Western Notes: J. Smith, Pelicans, Thomas, Azubuike

With no minutes available for rookie big man Jalen Smith in the Suns‘ rotation, the team has opted to send him to the G League. The Northern Arizona Suns aren’t in action this season, so Smith will join the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, Los Angeles’ affiliate, via the flexible-assignment rule, as the Clippers announced today.

Smith, who dealt with COVID-19 earlier in the season, has appeared in just eight games for the Suns so far, logging 50 total minutes. While the Clippers’ affiliate won’t necessarily showcase him like Phoenix’s own affiliate would, 2020’s No. 10 overall pick should still see regular playing time during his NBAGL assignment.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Following a four-game winning streak, the Pelicans have now dropped three consecutive contests, all to sub-.500 teams. The slump has head coach Stan Van Gundy considering changes to the team’s rotation, per Christian Clark of NOLA.com. “I think now we have to take a look at who we’re playing and how many minutes and what rotations and figure out if there is a way that we can play better defense,” Van Gundy said. “But, I’m being honest with you, I don’t know how many of our guys really have a defensive mentality.”
  • After being waived by the Rockets on Friday, Brodric Thomas has joined Houston’s G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Twitter link). The Rockets promoted Ray Spalding from the Vipers’ roster to fill Thomas’ two-way contract slot, so the two players essentially swapped places.
  • Jazz rookie Udoka Azubuike suffered a severe right ankle sprain during the first game of the Salt Lake City Stars’ season in the G League bubble last week and will be sidelined indefinitely, as Sarah Todd of The Deseret News writes.
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12 thoughts on “Western Notes: J. Smith, Pelicans, Thomas, Azubuike

  1. RoyalRedskin402

    Jalen Smith on his way to being a bust already. Good pick suns. Coulda had Haliburton

  2. Lil_D_Top_3

    I tried, but as handsome as he is I think I’m out on Van Gundy. “I don’t know how many of our players have a defensive mentality”? It’s literally your job to know, and to change that.

    It’s one thing to call out players to motivate them, but blaming them is not what good coaches do. It is what desperate, in-over-their-heads coaches do.

    • Walladipo and Wood

      He hasn’t won a playoff series in over a decade. I don’t know why anyone would think he can make the Pelicans a better team. Dude’s overrated.

      • I feel I could out coach Stan Van Gundy! He is terrible.Dwayne Casey proved that last Year. I feel for Zion.

    • x%sure

      That’s just a way of saying only a couple players are good at playing defense… It’s not really a question… and he did not blame effort. Pretty soft & political way of putting it.

      I doubt any other coach would be getting good defense from them.

      • Lil_D_Top_3

        Yeah well in addition to coaching, it is also the coaches job to represent the team in the media. In this case he did a crappy job by offering a weak response.

        So you can get caught up in semantics, but I’m still right. If you think Van Gundy is doing a great job I’d like to hear your argument. I’ll wait…

  3. KnickerbockerAl

    Kind of surprised Suns took J Smith. I think he will be ok in time. But Achiuwa or Stewart better 4s to me. K Lewis or Halliburton would of learned from Chris. any of those would of been my choice. I was shocked they didn’t jump on Halliburton. Cause if Toppin didn’t drop to us. Halliburton was who I wanted at 8.

    • andremets

      I was so sad when the Knicks took Topin over Halliburton….but I imagine they would have passed on Quickly if that was the case.

      The 2 worst lotto picks of the draft were Chicago (too early) and Phoenix (wtf).

      • x%sure

        Jalen S is a big with a natural stroke who probably has to get nastier. No need to be perfect as a rookie, but playing in the GL was practically designed to get players ready for the top league.

        • Lil_D_Top_3

          “Playing in the G league is meant to get players ready for the top league”. In other news water is wet lol. Great insight, thanks!

  4. Sensitive Fanboy

    10th pick in the G-League bubble? Great drafting there PHX.

    We more guys named Jalen in the league, not enough of them.

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