Northwest Notes: Lillard, Henderson, Markkanen, Gobert, Towns

Appearing on the “It Is What It Is” podcast, Damian Lillard said he wasn’t upset when the Trail Blazers used their lottery pick to draft Scoot Henderson. The electrifying point guard is projected to be Lillard’s eventual replacement as the star of Portland’s backcourt, but Lillard won’t mind sharing the court with the rookie until he gets the trade he wants.

“Me and Scoot, we’ve had a few conversations with him coming into the league,” Lillard said. “That wasn’t a deal breaker for me at all. I respect his game. I think in that position he was the best player available, so that’s what you’ve gotta do if you’ve got the pick. But no, I wasn’t offended at all, because at the end of the day, you’ve gotta come in and play. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so to me that wasn’t a knock on me or anything.”

With trade talks between the Blazers and Heat reportedly at a standstill and other teams reluctant to make their best offers because of Lillard’s preference to play in Miami, it appears there’s a good chance that Lillard and Henderson will begin the season as teammates.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Lauri Markkanen is one of the best values in the NBA, but the Jazz need to consider his future beyond his current contract, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. Markkanen has two seasons left at $17.3MM and $18MM, with only a $6MM guarantee for the final year. Larsen notes that Utah can either let him play out the deal and take advantage of about $41MM in cap space next summer or renegotiate the final year and sign him to an extension. The new CBA places a 140% limit on extensions, so Markkanen would have to get to about $35MM in 2024/25 to be eligible for a max deal of $49MM the following season.
  • The Timberwolves are hoping for improvement in the second year of the Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns pairing, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic states in an overview of Minnesota’s roster. He adds that Gobert was dealing with knee soreness following EuroBasket last fall while Towns missed most of training camp because of an infection, so there’s hope that better health will lead to better results.
  • The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice has fined Timberwolves assistant trainer Jesse Geffon $500 for treating players without a license for part of last season, per Paul Walsh of The Star-Tribune. Geffon joined the team in September, but didn’t apply for his license until February.
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