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If the Portland Trail Blazers decided to part ways with Terry Stotts after the season, it would be a huge surprise considering the success they’ve experienced in the 2013-14 campaign.
Sure, the team has struggled as of late, losing 16 of their last 29 games, but Portland has exceeded expectations this season and Stotts’ entire body of work this year has been impressive.
The Blazers won 33 of their first 44 games and at one point sat atop the Western Conference. The team is currently in the West’s fifth seed, which is incredible considering how competitive the conference is this season. It looks like the Blazers are going to win 50 or more games, which nobody predicted entering the season, and finish ahead of teams like the Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks that entered the year with much higher expectations.
Also, it’s important to note that LaMarcus Aldridge missed five games in February and seven games in March due to injuries, so it’s not like the team has been at full strength when they’ve struggled.
Lawrence indicates that this belief that Portland will make a coaching change is coming from Stotts’ staff, but it just seems like that would be a big mistake and overreaction by the Blazers considering how good this team has been for most of the season. Stotts is in the final year of his contract so it would be easy for Portland to make a change this summer, if they desired.
There’s no question that Patrick Beverley is really tough, so he may be able to come back from a torn meniscus quicker than most players due to his high pain tolerance. He’s going to meet with Dr. James Andrews on Monday and see how fast he could realistically return. As he said, he’s hoping that he can play in the coming weeks, which means he could be available for the Houston Rockets in the postseason.
Beverley told reporters that he doesn’t think he’ll need surgery, which could allow him to return relatively soon. Surgery on a torn meniscus, like Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose underwent earlier this season, typically keeps a player out four to six months. Beverley is hoping to avoid the knife because it would end his season.
As long as playing won’t cause more damage, Beverley’s status may come down to how much he can tolerate the pain and whether the injury limits him physically. He’ll go over his options with Dr. Andrews on Monday and then have a better idea of the timetable to return.
In the meantime, Jeremy Lin will start in Beverley’s place. Prior to the injury, Beverley was averaging 9.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 steals. The 25-year-old was having a breakout year as the Rockets’ starting point guard, giving the team some much needed toughness and perimeter defense.
Houston is currently 49-23, which puts them in the fourth seed in the Western Conference. If the playoffs started today, they’d face the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. Getting Beverley back for the postseason would certainly make the Rockets a tougher out.
P.J. Tucker has been a pleasant surprise for the Phoenix Suns this season, averaging 9.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals as a starter while playing on a veteran’s minimum contract. Because Tucker has been extremely productive on his $884,000 contract, Forbes named him the most underpaid player in the NBA this season.
Tucker will likely get a raise next year, but whether it’s with the Suns remains to be seen. He clearly wants to stay in Phoenix and is grateful to the organization for giving him a chance when nobody else would.
The 28-year-old was drafted 35th overall by the Toronto Raptors back in 2006, but he spent time in the D-League and was released before his rookie season ended. Tucker then had a number of stints overseas, starring in Germany, Ukraine, Israel and Puerto Rico. He played for the Suns’ summer league team in 2012 and was signed to a two-year deal that was only partially guaranteed. From there, he made the team, improved significantly and eventually earned a place in the starting lineup.
This season, he has averaged career-highs across the board and been a key contributor for Phoenix. The Suns have exceeded all expectations this year, and Tucker has been part of the reason why. Phoenix is currently 44-29 and in the Western Conference’s seventh seed, which is remarkable considering they were projected to be one of the worst teams in the league entering the season.
Tucker will become a restricted free agent this summer if the Suns extend a $1,148,163 qualifying offer, which they are expected to do. Tucker can re-sign with Phoenix, or sign an offer sheet with another team in which case the Suns will have a chance to match.