TUALATIN, Ore. — Scores of basketballs sat on tables at the Trail Blazers’ practice facility waiting to be signed by players after their workout.
But for now, those Spaldings are without one particular John Hancock — that of Raymond Felton.
The Portland point guard had not yet returned from South Carolina, where he was tending to his mother, who has undergone heart surgery.
Blazers interim coach Kaleb Canales said that Felton was initially scheduled to be back by Thursday morning’s pre-game shootaround, but that his attendance was not a sure thing at this point.
‘We told him to take as much time with his family as he needs,” Canales said. “Initially, we talked about him coming back for (Thursday), but there was no specific time … we’ll see how it goes.”
Canales was non-committal as to who would start in Felton’s place should he not return on time. But such a choice is more suspenseful now that it would have been a couple days earlier.
Nolan Smith earned the nod during Tuesday night’s loss to the Thunder, but the rookie went just 1 for 9 from the field while failing to slow down Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook.
Newly acquired point guard Jonny Flynn had similar trouble with Westbrook, but was able to score 10 points while going 3 of 6 from the field.
So the obvious question after Wednesday’s practice was: Will Blazer fans see more of Flynn against the Hornets on Thursday?
“I think Jonny played well last night,” Canales said. “He definitely made a case for himself to earn more playing time.”
One Blazer that has been seeing very little playing time of late is Craig Smith.
The power forward has not stepped on the court since Portland acquired J.J. Hickson three games ago, and may continue to sit given Hickson’s 20-point, 9-of-10 shooting performance against the Thunder.
Canales said that “Craig has to be ready to go” and the two “have had conversations,” although he would not get into specifics.
That privacy theme continued when Canales discussed New Orleans coach Monty Williams. When he was an assistant with the Blazers, Williams served as a mentor to Canales, and will now coach against him for the first time since Canales’ promotion two weeks ago. So, will Canales have any special feelings when glancing over at Monty on the sideline?
“I don’t even think I’ve looked down the sideline, I’m so focused on us,” Canales said. “But me and Monty have a special relationship.”