Rudy Fernandez is excited to play in Portland now. Of course he is.

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Thumbnail image for Fernandez_McMillan.jpgAfter an entire summer of trying anything and everything to force his way out of Portland — with his agent stepping far enough over the line as to be fined by the league — Rudy Fernandez is changing his tone as camp approaches.

Here are his comments in an interview with Spanish media outlet Marca, with Hoopshype doing the translation.

“I think if Portland keeps my rights, that means they believe in me. I’m excited to begin the season with them and prove that I have my place on the team and play minutes. The most important thing is to grow as a player and as a person. I’m an NBA player and there’s not many people who can say that.”

Right. We’re all buying that.

If Fernandez is as valuable as Portland GM Rich Cho is making him out to be with trade requests — a mid-level and above first round pick and more — then the Blazers should be better able to use him in their rotation. Wouldn’t you think?

Coach Nate McMillan wants Fernandez in more of a shooters role — 32.2 percent of Fernandez’s attempts last season were catch-and-shoot, another 19.8 percent were coming off screens (according to Synergy Sports). Fernandez shot 38.8 and 34 percent on those respective types of shots.

Fernandez fancies himself a playmaker. Then again, as a pick-and-roll ball handler he shot just 27.5 percent. Really, the only place he performed well is in transition.

If they are going to have to live with one another, McMillan needs to find more creative ways to use Fernandez and his skills. Fernandez needs to knock down shots regardless. This is a marriage that should be able to work.

That or just trade the guy, finally.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.