Blazers assign Mills; Fernandez cleared to play

McMillan plans to work Fernandez back into rotation

By Brian T. Smith, Columbian Sports Writer

Published:

Updated: January 13, 2010, 11:08 AM

 

TUALATIN, Ore. — The Portland Trail Blazers assigned rookie guard Patty Mills today to the team's NBA Development League affiliate, the Idaho Stampede, the team announced.

Mills had played just five minutes in four games since being called up by the Blazers on Jan. 3.

The 6-foot, 185-pound guard out of St. Mary’s was added to Portland’s roster to fill in for guard Steve Blake, who missed four games due to pneumonia. But Blake returned to action last Sunday, and his minutes are expected to increase in future games.

The Blazers want Mills — who missed all of training camp and the first two months of the season while recovering from foot surgery — to pick up as much playing time as possible, which is the primary reason he will rejoin the Stampede.

In addition, Blazers guard Rudy Fernandez said he felt fine after a Wednesday morning shootaround at the team's practice facility, and expects to play tonight against the Miwaukee Bucks at the Rose Garden. As a result, the Blazers upgraded Fernandez to probable.

It has been a quick turnaround for Fernandez in recent days. Tuesday, he was listed as questionable for tonight's game. And Portland general manager Kevin Pritchard said Monday the team was "hopeful" Fernandez could play in Friday's home game against the Orlando Magic.

Fernandez has been out since Dec. 8 following a microdisectomy to alleviate leg pain.

He is averaging 8.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 20 games this season.

"He's looking good, Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "We'll slowly try and work him back into the rotation."