Western Notes: Kings, Tucker, McCollum, JRE, Thunder

With De’Aaron Fox on the shelf due to a right ankle sprain, the Kings are struggling to establish their identity and display the sort of physicality and stalwart defense that head coach Mike Brown wants to see, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. After suffering back-to-back blowouts to the Rockets in Houston on Saturday and Monday, Brown suggested changes might be coming to the rotation.

“I’ve got to evaluate some things,” Brown said. “In this business, you always have to have a sense of urgency, but you have to believe in what you do whenever you make any type of change or any time you do this instead of that. For me, I’m going to go back and I’m going to watch the film, and if I feel the same way after the film, then I’ve got to try to make sure I keep trying to put five guys out there who are going to do what we ask, which is to play together and play the right way while playing fast and bringing a sense of physicality.

“I always have a 24-hour rule, especially after something like this,” Brown continued. “So, I’m going to sleep on it and I’m going to watch this film, and if you earn a chance to play, I’m going to play you. Nobody’s position on this team is sacred.”

The Kings, winners of 48 games last season, are off to a 2-4 start in 2023/24 and rank 22nd in the NBA in defensive rating (114.0).

Let’s round up a few more notes from around the Western Conference…

  • New Clippers forward P.J. Tucker admitted on Monday that, despite the trade rumors that swirled around teammate James Harden all offseason, he hadn’t anticipated being part of a Harden deal. “I wasn’t expecting to get traded, so I didn’t know,” Tucker told Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. “It kind of came out of nowhere.”
  • Pelicans head coach Willie Green told reporters on Monday that the team doesn’t have any new details on CJ McCollum‘s collapsed right lung, but expressed optimism that the ailment isn’t too serious, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. “We don’t think it’s too bad,” Green said. “But we have to run more tests and see where we are after that.” As Clark observes, McCollum dealt with a similar health issue during his time in Portland and it cost him 18 games.
  • Jeremiah Robinson-Earl‘s two-way contract with the Pelicans is just a rest-of-season deal, Hoops Rumors has learned. That means Robinson-Earl will be eligible for restricted free agency at the end of the 2023/24 season, assuming he plays out his new contract.
  • Some rival scouts and executives think the Thunder are capable of being a top-four seed in the West this season, but head of basketball operations Sam Presti is preaching patience and appears in no rush to accelerate his team’s contention timeline, as Tim MacMahon details in an interesting feature for ESPN.com.
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