Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas missed Monday’s game against the Suns due to the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets. It’s uncertain how long Valanciunas will be sidelined. He was instructed to leave the bench area 10 days ago due to COVID-19 contact tracing but it turned out to be a “false alarm,” as Valanciunas described it. Rookie Xavier Tillman started in his place.
We have more from the Western Conference:
- The Warriors might take a longer look at Damion Lee with Kelly Oubre Jr. off to a slow start, Ethan Strauss of The Athletic writes. Lee’s skills mesh more seamlessly with Stephen Curry, so Golden State could even try Lee in a starting role. He had a pair of double-digit scoring outings last week and has shot the ball well from deep (44.7%) with a low turnover rate. Oubre has shot an icy 19.7% on his 3-point tries but the Warriors dipped deeper into the luxury tax by acquiring him, so they’ll likely exercise plenty of patience and hope he returns to last season’s form.
- Michael Porter Jr.‘s starting spot is safe, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said on Monday, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Porter hasn’t played since December 29 after being placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list. “Bottom line is, he’s the starting small forward at 6’10”, averaging close to 20 points a game and seven rebounds,” Malone said. “Not only are you whole, but you have a really talented player who’s a big part of your current team and also your future.”
- NBA veterans Josh Huestis and Ray Spalding are among the players on the Rockets’ G League roster, according to a tweet from the Rio Grande Vipers. Huestis played in Germany last season after appearing in 76 career games with the Thunder, including 69 during the 2017/18 season. Spalding was waived by the Hornets in November. He played 13 games with the Suns in 2018/19.