Western Notes: Porter Jr., Bane, Jazz, Rockets

Despite undergoing back surgery at the beginning of last month, Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. reportedly could return this season.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski expanded on that possibility (video link), saying that in conversations with team president Tim Connelly and Porter’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, they “love the way he’s coming along.”

“There’s optimism we’re going to see him again this season,” Wojnarowski said.

That would be a huge boost to the Nuggets’ chances during the postseason. Porter signed a five-year max extension in September.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Desmond Bane says he deserves serious consideration for the Most Improved Player award, as he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “A lot of times, they don’t want to give it to guys like myself or Jerami Grant,” the Grizzlies guard said on Haynes’ podcast. “But your role changes as you get better. As you improve and as you get better, you get more leeway, you get more opportunities. That’s just how the game goes. They’re not going to give an opportunity to a guy that isn’t ready for it. … So I think that I should definitely be in the conversation.” Bane also believes he could take down the 3-point shooting contest on All-Star weekend if he gets the chance. “If I get invited, I plan to do it and I plan to win it,” he said.
  • Amid reports that the Jazz are looking for a wing upgrade, head coach Quin Snyder hinted that the team needs to do something about its defensive slippage. Utah was defeated by Houston 116-111 on Wednesday and Snyder lamented the team’s performance on that end of the court, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News writes. “We just had multiple breakdowns over the course of the game, in different capacities, defensively,” he said. “We were helping when we shouldn’t have been helping, not recognizing personnel situations, not focused on the details of what we’re trying to do on the defensive end.”
  • Speaking of the Rockets, they could be very active before the trade deadline as they continue their rebuild. The Athletic’s John Hollinger and Kelly Iko explore which players are most likely to be moved and their trade value. Hollinger sees a potential avenue for moving Eric Gordon to the Lakers and outlines what they could get in return.
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