Pacific Notes: Fox, Paul, Warriors, Lue, Westbrook

Kings guard De’Aaron Fox admits that it was “definitely hard” to see second-year guard Tyrese Haliburton depart at last month’s trade deadline, according to Logan Murdock of The Ringer, who says Fox had been planning to mentor his young backcourt partner for years to come.

However, Fox – who is now the Kings’ longest-tenured player – has gotten accustomed to a certain level of turnover since arriving in Sacramento. While his coaches and teammates continue to change around him, Fox himself at least appears to be part of the franchise’s long-term plans.

“The Kings always told us, ‘He’s our guy. He’s our franchise guy. He’s our max player, and we’ll build it around him, man,'” agent Chris Gaston tells Murdock. “That’s what they told everybody else around the NBA is that, ‘Hey, look, you can inquire about De’Aaron all you want, but we’re building around De’Aaron. This is our guy. He’s our main centerpiece.’ And they are true to their word.”

Fox, currently sidelined due to a right hand injury, has shown improvement in his recovery from that injury but hasn’t yet resumed basketball activities, tweets James Ham of ESPN 1320. While Fox is with the Kings on their current road trip, his return isn’t considered imminent, prompting Ham to speculate (via Twitter) that we may have seen the last of Fox and Domantas Sabonis (knee) this season.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Suns point guard Chris Paul has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game, but is doing “more and more” in recent days and is getting closer to returning from his thumb injury, says Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.
  • Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area makes the case that the Warriors should consider replacing Kevon Looney with Otto Porter Jr. in their starting lineup to help jump-start their offense.
  • Since joining the Clippers, head coach Tyronn Lue has emerged from LeBron James‘ shadow and is developing into a star in his own right, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes, examining how Lue has kept his team competitive while missing stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. “When you build a system around your best two players, a lot of stuff we can’t run anymore,” Lue said. “I had to look at the mirror myself and just figure out what’s best for this team. I had to go back to the drawing board.”
  • Criticized for his inability to score efficiently for much of the season, Russell Westbrook has made nearly 50% of his field goal attempts and 40% of his three-point tries in his last six games. Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group wonders if the Lakers are finally getting the version of Westbrook they envisioned when they traded for him last summer.
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