Western Notes: Lillard, Blazers, Kings, Lakers, Micić

Appearing on Draymond Green‘s podcast, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard expressed some enthusiasm about the team’s direction, singling out teammates Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little, Jusuf Nurkic, and Josh Hart, and suggesting Portland has “got some pieces to the puzzle” and just needs to keep adding to those pieces.

As Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com relays, Lillard also pushed back against the idea that Portland can’t be an appealing free agent destination, arguing that if the Blazers have a chance to seriously contend, they’ll attract talent.

“No offense, but people (are) going to Oklahoma City, people going to Milwaukee, you know what I mean?” Lillard said. “People are going places and Portland ain’t what people think it is, otherwise I wouldn’t have been living here this long. If you just couldn’t live here, I wouldn’t be living here this long.

“I think that’s part of it, but at the end of the day, people are going places that’s like ‘You went there?’ (Carmelo Anthony) went to OKC when we was trying to get ‘Melo to come here. Ask ‘Melo where he would go first. And I’ll say this: not just because of the living situation.”

Here are a few more notes from around the Western Conference:

  • The Kings‘ trade deadline shake-up create a more positive vibe around the organization, point guard De’Aaron Fox said this week, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “I think the mood is definitely a bit better,” Fox said. “It’s definitely different when guys come into new situations, guys coming from Indiana, guys coming from Detroit and Donte [DiVincenzo] coming from Milwaukee … it’s like a breath of fresh air when you have a change of scenery.”
  • Lakers head coach Frank Vogel shared a series of injury-related updates on Thursday, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link). Most notably, Kendrick Nunn (knee) has begun his ramp-up process again following a setback last month, Anthony Davis (foot) is off his crutches, and Carmelo Anthony (hamstring) is probable to return on Friday after missing the team’s last five games.
  • Speaking to Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com, veteran international agent Misko Raznatovic expressed dissatisfaction with the rules governing draft-and-stash players like his client Vasilije Micić, whose NBA rights are held by the Thunder. “One team gets your rights and then, (even if) you’re the best player in Europe, they don’t want to trade you and they don’t want to give you (a fair contract) offer,” Raznatovic said. “And then you never play in the NBA, (even if) you’re better than 80% of the guys who are there. I don’t believe this is fair.” Raznatovic did note that Micić has an annual NBA escape clause in his contract with Anadolu Efes, so he’ll talk to the Thunder again this summer to see if they can work something out.
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