Jazz forward Jarred Vanderbilt had one of his best games of the season vs. Portland on Saturday, registering 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and a pair of steals while making all four of his 3-point attempts.
As Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune notes, the performance was well-timed, given that Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard previously singled out Vanderbilt as someone he’d like to play with. On Saturday, Lillard responded to a tweet about Vanderbilt’s possible trade value with an eyes emoji, though he has since deleted that one.
Vanderbilt is on a team-friendly contract and is under team control for another season beyond this one, so the Jazz may not be motivated to move him at this season’s deadline. But if they do make him available, it seems safe to assume the Blazers will be among the teams inquiring, given Lillard’s influence within the organization.
Here are a few more items from around the Northwest:
- Patrick Beverley is having a down year on the court in Los Angeles this season, but the Timberwolves have missed his locker room leadership, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Head coach Chris Finch said on Monday that the team is still seeking its identity and looking for leaders. “Everything about winning requires leadership. It’s something that we’ve not been great at,” Finch said. “We’re trying to find a voice collectively, trying to find a personality as a team. Those are things that we’ve got to keep working on, trying to cultivate as a team. That’s my job.”
- As expected – and as long planned – Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren underwent a successful “secondary” procedure on his foot on Tuesday to remove hardware from his initial Lisfranc surgery in August, the team announced. According to the Thunder, the timeline for Holmgren’s recovery hasn’t changed, and he remains on track to return for the 2023/24 season.
- Nuggets head coach Michael Malone is willing to take the blame for the club’s inconsistent bench play so far this season, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “That unit has struggled most of the year, and I take responsibility for that,” Malone said. “Not finding a way to get those guys to play together, to play the right way, and most importantly, just to have some success.” Denver’s bench players have a net rating of minus-5.3, the third-worst mark in the NBA.