Jaylen Nowell

Injury Notes: Brunson, Bulls, Cavaliers, KAT, Grizzlies

Knicks starting point guard Jalen Brunson will miss his second straight game on Monday with a sprained right hand, the team has announced (Twitter link).

The 6’1″ Brunson is enjoying a career season with his new club. Across 65 healthy games, he’s averaging 23.8 PPG on .489/.411/.833 shooting. The 26-year-old is also averaging 6.2 APG, 3.6 RPG and 0.9 SPG for New York.

Reserve guard Derrick Rose, who has been out of the rotation since the calendar rolled over to 2023, will also be inactive for this evening’s bout against the Rockets due to an illness, the Knicks add.

Here are some more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Bulls forward Javonte Green, who continues to recover from a January knee surgery after making a brief return to the lineup last week, will be out tonight against the Clippers, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Johnson adds that veteran Chicago guard Alex Caruso is considered questionable to play.
  • Several Cavaliers players comprise the club’s injury report ahead of the team’s game Tuesday against the Hawks, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter links). Starting center Jarrett Allen is questionable with a groin strain, while starting small forward Isaac Okoro is also questionable due to a sore knee. Swingman Danny Green and point guard Raul Neto will not play. Wing Dean Wade is doubtful to play through an illness. Isaiah Mobley, Sam Merrill and Dylan Windler are all going to be working with Cleveland’s NBAGL affiliate, the Cleveland Charge.
  • Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns will sit out tonight’s game against the Kings as he manages his right calf strain injury on the second night of a back-to-back, the team has announced (Twitter link). Two-way player Matt Ryan is out with an illness. All-Star shooting guard Anthony Edwards is questionable due to a sprained right ankle. Guard Jaylen Nowell is also questionable with a left knee tendinopathy.
  • At least five Grizzlies players will be shelved for Tuesday’s contest against the Magic, Memphis has announced (via Twitter). Beyond Brandon Clarke, who’s out for the year with a left Achilles tear, Ziaire Williams, Vince Williams, Jake LaRavia and Steven Adams are all also sidelined. All-Star point guard Ja Morant is considered doubtful to play due to a sore right thigh.

Northwest Notes: Towns, Nowell, SGA, Little

Karl-Anthony Towns provided an uplifting moment by returning from a long absence caused by a calf injury to help the Timberwolves defeat the Hawks on Wednesday, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Towns received a thunderous ovation from the Minnesota crowd in his first appearance in roughly four months, then capped off the night by hitting two free throws to secure the victory.

“This is what movies are made of,” Towns said. “You come back, (52) games missing, sellout crowd, Target Center, and you get the ball with seven seconds left, no timeouts. You’ve got to make it. I mean, it doesn’t get better than that. … To be able to come up big for my teammates is all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

Towns’ return helped the Wolves climb back to .500 and move up to seventh in the crowded Western Conference playoff race. It also brought back the challenge of trying to effectively play him alongside Rudy Gobert, a combination that often seemed awkward before Towns got hurt.

“We’ve got to find a way to make the two-big lineup work,” coach Chris Finch said. “It has to be who we are in these last eight games. We have the flexibility to go a lot of different directions. But when a guy’s playing this well, he deserves to be out there in some form or fashion. It’s my job to figure it out.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves guard Jaylen Nowell is back in the lineup after missing 10 games with left knee tendinopathy, but the condition is likely to continue for the rest of the season, according to Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. Nowell is attempting to manage the pain enough to get on the court, and he was able to return to action Monday. “It was slow and long. Just really tough,” Nowell said of the rehab process. “There were times it felt good, then would play on it for like five minutes and it wouldn’t feel good. We just kind of had to sit and do a lot of treatment. It was tough, just getting out there and watching the game, not playing. But glad to be back now.”
  • Coach Mark Daigneault said the Thunder are “open-minded” about using Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in both games of back-to-backs for the rest of the season, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City faces the Clippers tonight and will stay in L.A. for Friday’s game against the Lakers.
  • Nassir Little missed Wednesday’s game after entering concussion protocol, the Trail Blazers announced (via Twitter).

KAT Had “Major Setback” In January, But Return “Imminent”

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns has had a lengthy recovery from a Grade 3 calf strain that has kept him on the sidelines since November 28. However, he’s optimistic about being cleared to return soon, as he told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

I feel good there is a day (coming),” Towns said. “There’s a time. I’ve been in the darkness of the tunnel and trying to figure out where I’m going. It’s good to know that there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.”

According to Krawczynski, Towns said he had a “major setback” in late January, which essentially restarted the entire rehab process. The 27-year-old declined to go into detail about the setback, but he was unable to sit on the team’s bench during that time because he had to keep his leg elevated.

I was standing up for 20 minutes, and my leg was done,” he said. “That was my first time trying it. I was thinking I could do it, and there was no way.”

As Krawczynski writes, this has been Towns’ longest absence of his career, and his first time dealing with a soft tissue injury, which can be tricky in the best of times. There’s also a risk of further injury to a lower extremity, like tearing the Achilles tendon or the ACL, if an athlete returns before the calf is fully healed. Town said his calf was “95 percent torn off,” making it even more of a risk.

That was a very real possibility of happening if I went back on the court,” Towns said. “It was one of those things we were all worried about. As a competitor I was like, ‘Ah f— it, I’ll play. I can do it. I’ll figure it out.’ There was just no way with what I had that I could even attempt to do that.”

Towns told Krawczynski he wishes that he and the team had been more transparent about the injury, as fans have been understandably frustrated by how long he’s been out. However, his commitment to playing shouldn’t be questioned and he’s nearing his return, according to president of basketball operations Tim Connelly.

We’re just really proud of how he’s approached rehab, and we’re extremely excited that his return is imminent,” Connelly said.

Here are a few more injury notes on the Wolves, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune:

  • Head coach Chris Finch provided an update on Anthony Edwards, who has been unable to work out or practice after spraining his ankle on Friday. “For sure there’s some relief,” Finch said when asked about the injury not being severe. “But you know Ant. Ant always wants to play. Never thinks he’s hurt. So, hopefully it is feeling better, which he says it is. In terms of pain tolerance, range of movement, stability, all those things, I think we’re still trying to figure out where that really is with him.”
  • Finch also spoke briefly about Towns, Hine adds. “Feels really, really close,” Finch said of Towns’ potential return. “That’s all I can tell you. He’s looking good.” The Wolves have dropped five of six games and are barely clinging to a play-in spot, so the returns of Edwards and Towns could play a major factor in whether or not they’re able to make the postseason.
  • As Hine writes, backup guard Jaylen Nowell was able to return to the lineup for Monday’s game in New York. The impending free agent had been out for the previous 10 games with left knee tendinopathy, missing nearly a month of action.

Wolves Notes: KAT, Alexander-Walker, Nowell, Roller Coaster

Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns was able to do some light on-court work on Thursday for the first time in months, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.

He can feel like he’s got the bit in his teeth right now,” head coach Chris Finch said. “He probably wants to do a little bit more than he’s actually allowed. That’s good.”

However, there’s still no timetable for the former No. 1 overall pick to return from a calf strain that has kept him on the shelf since November 28. When Finch was asked if the Wolves would consider shutting Towns down if there were only a few games left in the season and getting him re-acclimated might negatively impact the team, he said they want him back whenever he’s ready.

Regardless of what happens between here and the rest of the season, getting KAT with this group is such a priority just to see what we have,” Finch said, per Hine. “I wouldn’t say it’s not worth it, unless we were to fall completely out of the race. But even at that point, we need to discover for offseason evaluation, tweaking, strategy, game plan, whatever it might be, we got to see what this thing looks like.”

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker has made a positive impact on his new club, Hine writes in another story. The fourth-year guard, who was acquired from Utah in a trade last month, has claimed a rotation role in part due to a left knee injury to Jaylen Nowell, but he’s capitalized with strong defense and versatile offense. According to Hine, teammates have praised Alexander-Walker’s work ethic. “He’s passionate and it’s how hard he works,” center Naz Reid said. “The effort he puts in on the court. Playing with him is like having another teammate like myself. All effort and he’s willing to do whatever, and it shows.” Alexander-Walker can be a restricted free agent in the offseason if the Wolves tender him a qualifying offer.
  • Hine also provides an update on Nowell, who is dealing with knee tendinopathy and had “imaging” done earlier this week. When asked if Nowell was any closer to returning now than he was last week, Finch sounded skeptical. “Doesn’t feel like it, but I’m not exactly sure what his timetable is,” Finch said. The 23-year-old, who will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, last played on February 24.
  • Minnesota’s coaches and players have been exasperated by the team’s roller coaster season, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The Wolves have had some “truly inspiring victories” this season, but those have often been followed by bad losses to the teams at the bottom of the standings, notes Krawczynski. “Just gotta stay positive, continue to keep working, continue to keep getting better, and hopefully we don’t have some of those efforts like we’ve had against the lesser teams,” forward Kyle Anderson said. After losing in overtime on Friday to the Nets, the Wolves are now 34-34, the No. 8 seed in the West.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Northwest Division

For the rest of the regular season and postseason, Hoops Rumors is taking a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents during the 2023 offseason. We consider whether their stock is rising or falling due to their performance and other factors. Today, we’re focusing on a handful of Northwest players.

Jordan Clarkson, G, Jazz

  • 2022/23: $13.34MM
  • 2023/24: $14.26MM player option
  • Stock: Up

Clarkson is expected to decline his player option to land a long-term contract in free agency, which makes a lot of sense. He’s averaging career highs in points (20.8) and assists (4.4) per game and has matched his career best in rebounds per night (4.0) while posting a .444/.338/.816 shooting slash line (.558 true shooting percentage).

The veteran guard will turn 31 years old in the offseason, so this might be his last chance to land a major multiyear payday. He is an all-around poor defensive player, but his play-making has improved this season, and his shot-creation ability is widely coveted.

I don’t have a great feel for how much Clarkson might get in free agency. His representatives could point to the contracts signed by Anfernee Simons (four years, $100MM) and Jordan Poole (four years, $123MM guaranteed) last summer, for example – Clarkson is much older and has less upside, but his strengths, weaknesses and production are fairly similar to those players.

If I were a GM, I would be very hesitant to pay Clarkson that much money, but he has earned a raise on his current deal, that much is certain.

Udoka Azubuike, C, Jazz

  • 2022/23: $2.17MM
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Down

A former first-round pick (No. 27 overall in 2020), Azubuike has unfortunately dealt with a few significant ankle injuries in his brief NBA career, which has impacted his development. Utah declined its fourth-year team option on the 23-year-old big man before the season started, sending a strong signal that he wasn’t in the team’s long-term plans.

Azubuike has only appeared in 26 games this season for an average of 5.9 minutes per contest. It’s hard to get much of a read on someone who plays so little, but he is a limited offensive player who struggles at the free throw line (he shot 41.6% in four college seasons and is at 55.2% on very low volume in the NBA).

The remaining 17 games will essentially serve as an audition for Azubuike. How he performs — and if he gets minutes — could very well determine whether or not he’s able to land a guaranteed contract in the offseason. The odds of that happening seem lower than 50/50 at the moment.

Naz Reid, C, Timberwolves

  • 2022/23: $1.93MM
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Up

Reid’s per 36 numbers have been quite consistent in each of his four seasons. So why is his stock up?

The primary reason is he’s shown that his game is scalable, meaning his production doesn’t suffer with more playing time. The 23-year-old is averaging 16.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.0 block in 11 games as a fill-in starter (26.1 minutes), with the team going 6-5 in those contests. Playing well against reserves is one thing, but doing it over the course of a full game against starters is something entirely different.

Reid has slimmed down considerably since going undrafted out of LSU in 2019 and has shown that he is a quality backup center capable of spot starts. Something in the range of $8-11MM annually seems within reach — a massive increase on his current minimum-salary contract.

Jaylen Nowell, G, Timberwolves

  • 2022/23: $1.93MM
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Down

I liked what I saw from Nowell last season and thought he should have gotten more minutes at times. He is shifty with the ball with a quick first step, and shows some nascent play-making ability.

Something has been off with him for nearly the entire ‘22/23 season, which is unfortunate because he had a big opportunity to establish himself after the Rudy Gobert trade freed up backcourt playing time.

Maybe that’s part of the problem. He often looks like he’s trying too hard and forcing the issue instead of letting the game come to him, often a sign of a player pressing. The steep decline in three-point shooting — from 39.4% last season to 29.3% in ‘22/23 — looks like another mental hurdle, as he hesitates at times even when he’s wide open, instead of trusting himself and letting it fly.

Nowell is only 23 and on a minimum deal. He will get more than that in free agency, but probably not as much as he was aiming for before the season began.

Drew Eubanks, C, Trail Blazers

  • 2022/23: $1.84MM
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Up

Another player on a minimum-salary deal, Eubanks plays within a clearly defined, limited offensive role of setting hard screens, rolling for the occasional lob, and crashing the offensive glass. His averages of 6.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks don’t exactly jump off the page, though he is shooting an impressive 68.3% from the field through 62 games (19 starts, 19.9 minutes).

However, he is an above-average defensive player who moves his feet well for a big man, allowing him to switch onto smaller players better than most centers. The 26-year-old is also a solid rim protector, making up for his relative lack of height (he’s 6’9”) with powerful leaping ability and solid timing while challenging and blocking shots.

Eubanks isn’t the type of player who is going to land a major payday in free agency, but I do think he’s solidified himself as a quality backup due to his consistent energy and the self-awareness he brings of knowing his role. The Blazers have been better when he’s on the court, which is always a positive sign. A multiyear deal in the range of $4-7MM per season seems pretty reasonable.

Wolves Notes: Winning Streak, Edwards, Alexander-Walker, Nowell

Road wins over the Clippers, Lakers and Kings have provided a confidence boost for the Timberwolves, according to a report published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“I think we have really good chemistry right now,” coach Chris Finch said. “I think we have great leadership, we have guys who really complement each other on the floor. I see it growing and growing — we just have to get some of the focus mistakes out, and then we can continue to get a little bit better.”

The Timberwolves are in contention for a top-six seed in the Western Conference, which would allow them to avoid the play-in tournament.

We have more on the Wolves:

  • Anthony Edwards had been in a shooting slump since the All-Star break, as noted by Chris Hine of the Star Tribune earlier in the trip, but has shown signs of breaking out. He had 27 points, including two pivotal baskets, and eight assists against Sacramento. “A lot of it was Anthony stepping up at the right time,” Finch said after the win over the Kings.
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker has been nearly as pivotal as Mike Conley to the team’s recent success, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes. Both players were acquired in a three-team blockbuster at last month’s deadline. Alexander-Walker, who has grabbed a spot on the second unit, supplied 16 points and five assists against Sacramento. “I had a lot of DNPs in Utah, so anytime I get multiple games with multiple minutes, for me to have an impact was everything I can ask for,” he said. He can be a restricted free agent after the season if Minnesota extends a qualifying offer.
  • Jaylen Nowell has been sidelined for the last four games with a knee ailment. He’s averaging 10.9 points and 2.0 assists entering unrestricted free agency this summer. Alexander-Walker could cut into his playing time when he returns, but Nowell is confident he’ll get offers this summer, he told Hine. “Coming in as a second-rounder, people would tell me not a lot of second guys make it to their second contract,” Nowell said. “But I always knew deep down this is meant for me. This is what I’m supposed to do. I’m going to make sure this happens.”

Northwest Notes: Gordon, Jackson, Dunn, Timberwolves

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone told reporters, including Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link), that there’s no firm timeline for Aaron Gordon to return from his rib injury.

Based on Malone’s wording, the team is taking Gordon’s injury one day at a time, but he was ruled out for the sixth consecutive game on Sunday, tweets Singer. Reserve big man Zeke Nnaji was also listed as out with a shoulder injury.

Gordon is having a career year for the Nuggets, averaging 17.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG and 2.9 APG on .587/.397/.623 shooting through 49 games (30.3 MPG). Denver has a five-game lead on Memphis for the No. 1 seed in the West, so the team will likely be cautious with Gordon in an effort to get him back to full strength for the playoffs.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • The Nuggets signed guard Reggie Jackson after he was bought out by the Hornets. Typically players acquired on the buyout market don’t have much of an impact on their new teams, but Jackson could be critical for a Nuggets team whose bench unit has struggled all season long, Singer writes for The Denver Post (subscriber link). “You just want to play well,” Jackson said. “They brought me here for a reason. Part of me is like, ‘I don’t want to mess it up. Let’s keep it rolling.’”
  • Kris Dunn is making an immediate impact for the Jazz after they signed him to a 10-day contract, according to Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune (subscriber link). After notching 11 points, one rebound, one assist and two steals in 16 minutes in his Jazz debut versus Oklahoma City, Dunn followed that up with 15 points, eight assists, seven boards, one steal and one block in 23 minutes versus San Antonio. Utah was victorious in both efforts, with Larsen saying the veteran guard was arguably the team’s second-best player against the Spurs on Saturday.
  • In the Timberwolves‘ latest injury report (Twitter link), three key rotation players are questionable for tonight’s game in Golden State. Center Rudy Gobert is sick, guard Jaylen Nowell has left knee tendinopathy, and forward Taurean Prince is dealing with a personal matter.

Northwest Notes: Murray, Hyland, Wolves, Thunder

Asked after Thursday’s win over Golden State about Nuggets players being willing to sacrifice individual opportunities for the sake of team success, Jamal Murray suggested that’s an important reason why the 37-16 Nuggets are tied for the NBA’s best record, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

“We’re a championship team,” Murray said. “All that stuff, not being happy, has gotta go out the window or else we’re not going to win. It’s nice to have a coach that knows that and knows what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Murray’s comments could be interpreted as a dig at fellow guard Bones Hyland, who is reportedly on the trade block due in part to unhappiness about his role. However, according to Singer, Murray was talking more about teammates like Vlatko Cancar, whose commitment to doing what’s best for the club hasn’t changed even as his playing time has. Murray, who referred to Cancar as “selfless,” clarified on Saturday that he wasn’t taking any shots at Hyland, tweets Singer.

“It’s tough for Bones, man … No one wants to be in this position,” Murray said of his teammate, who has been a DNP-CD for Denver’s last two games as trade rumors swirl. “… He’s doing his best. Me and him are cool, we don’t have no problems. Just trying to keep him in good spirits and know that his time’s coming.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Nuggets head coach Michael Malone also weighed in on Saturday on Hyland’s status as a trade candidate who has been out of the rotation this week. “It’s a real sensitive area for everyone involved,” Malone said, per Singer (Twitter link). “… Just trying to give him some space, but also let him know, yes, this is a business, but we also care about you. …. I put myself in his situation, and it’s not easy.”
  • In a Q&A with Chris Hine of The Star Tribune, president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said the Timberwolves have had “varying degrees of discussions” about contract extensions with D’Angelo Russell, Naz Reid, and Jaylen Nowell, and view all three players as “very important” to the team. Connelly also admitted he doesn’t particularly enjoy trade season. “The whole idea of trading guys is kind of gross,” he said. They’re human beings, not assets.”
  • Anthony Slater of The Athletic checks in on the Thunder‘s rebuilding process, which has been progressing ahead of schedule. While Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s emergence as an All-NBA caliber player has been the driving force behind Oklahoma City’s relative success (the team has surpassed its win total for each of the last two seasons with 30 games still to play), Slater notes that Josh Giddey has been a capable “co-pilot” and the team is putting together an impressive defensive-minded supporting cast.

Charania’s Latest: Anunoby, Collins, Poeltl, Hyland, More

The Knicks and Suns are among the teams interested in acquiring OG Anunoby, but it may be a few more days before the Raptors decide whether to make him available, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic. Sources tell Charania that Toronto won’t decide whether to be a buyer or seller until close to the February 9 trade deadline. That decision will affect the availability of Anunoby, along with Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr. and possibly others.

The Raptors were counting on another strong season after finishing fifth in the East last year, but they’re just 23-28 so far and stuck in 12th place. However, Toronto has won two of the first three games on its current road trip and still has a realistic shot to reach the play-in tournament.

President of basketball operations Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster want to take as much time as they can to evaluate the current roster before deciding whether to keep the core together or try to rebuild around Scottie Barnes. The Raptors are expected to seek a premium price if they do make their top players available, and Charania hears that the Knicks are willing to part with multiple first-round picks to land Anunoby.

The organization will also make a decision this summer on the future of head coach Nick Nurse, Charania adds. Toronto hasn’t released the details of Nurse’s most recent contract extension, but sources tell Charania it will expire after the 2023/24 season. He also hears from sources that Nurse has been the target of some of the frustrations this season, and the front office will consider whether a coaching change is in the team’s best interest.

Charania offers more inside information heading into the trade deadline:

  • The Hawks are still listening to offers for John Collins, but new head of basketball operations Landry Fields is telling teams that Collins is considered an important asset rather than a salary to dump. The Jazz remain interested in Collins, sources tell Charania, and when the teams discussed a deal early this season, Atlanta sought Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt in return. Utah reportedly asked for a first-round pick as well, which caused negotiations to stall.
  • Spurs center Jakob Poeltl is getting increased interest on the trade market, and Charania believes he could be headed to an Eastern Conference team such as the Celtics or Raptors.
  • The Nuggets are holding active trade conversations regarding Bones Hyland, and sources tell Charania that the Timberwolves are among the interested teams.
  • The Hornets are engaged in trade talks regarding Mason Plumlee and Kelly Oubre, according to Charania, and the Suns, Raptors, Jazz, Pacers and Spurs are among the teams monitoring Jalen McDaniels. Charlotte may value McDaniels too highly to consider a trade, but teams with cap space are expected to target him when he becomes a free agent this summer.
  • The Jazz are also interested in Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith, and Charania reports that rival teams believe he would be available in a deal involving a star player. Executives tell Charania that Dallas has put a high price on Finney-Smith, who signed a four-year, $55MM extension last year.
  • Jaylen Nowell is strongly considering leaving the Timberwolves this summer in free agency if he doesn’t get an extension in Minnesota, according to Charania’s sources.

Northwest Notes: Nowell, Wolves Centers, Kessler, Blazers

Part of the reason the Timberwolves were willing to part with Patrick Beverley and Malik Beasley in the Rudy Gobert trade was because they wanted to give Jaylen Nowell an opportunity to have a regular spot in the rotation. The fourth-year guard admitted a couple weeks ago that his season was “not going well,” and Monday’s loss to the last-place Rockets was further evidence of that, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

In nearly 19 minutes of action, Nowell finished 3-of-8 from the field for seven points, and committed three turnovers with zero assists. He also struggled defensively, Krawczynski notes, which has been an ongoing issue.

Obviously, the loss was not solely on the 23-year-old, who is set to hit unrestricted free agency in the summer. But if the Wolves want to make a real playoff push, they’ll need Nowell to provide a more consistent offensive spark off the bench, says Krawczynski.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • With Karl-Anthony Towns sidelined since late November due to a calf strain, and Gobert missing nine games with various injuries, the Timberwolves‘ center depth has been a positive in 2022/23, as Chris Hine of The Star Tribune details. Naz Reid, Nathan Knight and Luka Garza have all been given opportunities at various points during the season, and while they’re all trying to earn minutes, they also support each other. “You still want them to be successful,” Reid said, per Hine. “So you talk to each and every one of those guys. I might see something on the court, say something to them adjustment-wise of whatever the case may be and they might say something to me. At the same time, we’re all trying to help each other get better.”
  • Walker Kessler has had an impressive rookie season for the Jazz, and is already one of the top shot blockers in the league. He has been starting at center in place of the injured Kelly Olynyk (ankle), but how can he land the job full time? Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune has the story.
  • The Trail Blazers have had a rocky season, currently sitting at 23-25, the No. 12 seed in the West. While Damian Lillard has been as great as ever, scoring a season-high 60 points (on 21-of-29 shooting) in Wednesday’s win over Utah, there has been “little to zero” indication that Portland can make a legitimate playoff push, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. Ahead of the trade deadline, Quick believes the simplest route to infuse more talent on the roster would be to land in the lottery again, as the Blazers will lose their 2023 first-rounder if they reach the playoffs. However, that’s complicated by the fact that Lillard wants to be “in the best position to win.”