Felton with family tonight, either Smith or Crawford will replace him

When Raymond Felton returns is to be determined, but the Trail Blazers starting point guard does seem to have full support from his coach.

“My message to him is that family comes first…it will today and always will be for our players,” Blazers interim coach Kaleb Canales said. “We told him to take as much time with his family as he needed.”

Felton will miss Tuesday’s game vs. the Thunder to be with his mother, who will undergo heart surgery. Canales did not say whether Felton would return by Thursday, but was steadfast in having the 27-year-old’s back.

Asked if Raymond’s absence made his position up for grabs, Canales responded “Raymond Felton is our starting point guard.”

But who will be Tuesday’s starting point guard for Portland remains to be seen. Canales said Tuesday that it will likely be between Jamal Crawford and Nolan Smith, but offered nothing final after shootaround.

Either way, Smith seemed to be embracing the chance to play significant minutes in a significant game.

“This is a big opportunity for me, and a big game against a top team in the league,” Smith said. “I get excited for opportunities.”

Regardless of whether Smith starts Tuesday, he will get more playing time than usual. But that means he is going to be spending an extended amount of time guarding Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, one of the most explosive players in the league.

Smith, however, didn’t seem too daunted by the prospect of defending the All-Star, saying that he has gone against Westbrook before in both the NBA and when playing for the USA Select Team.

“I just gotta attack him,” Smith said.

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