The Trail Blazers have talked in the past about Anfernee Simons handling backup point guard duties behind Damian Lillard, but CJ McCollum has often played that role, with Simons spending time primarily at the two. However, new head coach Chauncey Billups seems committed to giving Simons a longer look at the point guard spot, and the 22-year-old says he intends to take “full advantage” of the opportunity, as Jason Quick of The Athletic details.
“I want CJ and Ant to be playing some backup point guard,” Billups said. “A lot of my conversations with (Simons) is about that — him being able to play a lot of backup point guard minutes, you know, running the show.”
The Blazers will be keeping a close eye on how Simons responds to the increased responsibilities, since he’s eligible for a rookie scale extension before the regular season begins. A source tells Quick that Simons’ agent Bill Duffy and the Blazers haven’t yet engaged in discussions about a new deal, but are expected to talk closer to the October 18 deadline.
“I don’t know anything about the extension; I’m focused on the season,” Simons said. “I know it’s a big season for me. So I’m not worried about it. My priority is to go out there and play well.”
Here’s more from around the Northwest:
- Discussing his new maximum-salary contract extension, Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander called the deal a “dream come true,” but views it as just one achievement to cross off on his long list of career goals, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. “I still have 90% of my list, so I won’t stop,” said Gilgeous-Alexander, who added that he feels “150%” healthy after missing the end of last season with a foot injury.
- When the Timberwolves‘ owners – Glen Taylor, Alex Rodriguez, and Marc Lore – spoke to reporters this week, all three stressed that Sachin Gupta is in charge of the basketball operations department and didn’t mention a looming front office search, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. While that doesn’t necessarily mean they view Gupta as the long-term solution, the timing may not be right to conduct a full-fledged search with the regular season around the corner, Krawczynski notes.
- Former Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders is in attendance at the Nuggets‘ training camp this week, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. As Wolfson explains, Saunders is close with Denver head coach Michael Malone and executives Tim Connelly and Calvin Booth.