Northwest Notes: Jazz, Stephenson, Garcia

It’s not shaping up to be a banner night for the league’s Northwest Division, with the Nuggets losing big in Charlotte, the Blazers down 20 at the half in Houston and the Jazz facing a 21-6 Grizzles team in Memphis. But that hasn’t affected the buzz coming out of the division on Monday night. Let’s round up the latest news and notes here:

  • The Jazz have no interest in pursuing Josh Smith should he hit free agency, reports Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune (via Twitter). This news certainly comes as no surprise, as Utah remains committed to developing their young frontcourt of Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Rudy Gobert, as Jones notes.
  • Matching Charlotte’s $63MM offer sheet on Gordon Hayward, perhaps the most critical member of the Jazz‘s young core, is looking even better for Utah considering that the Hornets ended up with Lance Stephenson as a result, writes Jody Genessy of the Deseret News. With the Jazz in Charlotte this past weekend, Genessy rehashes the offseason’s festivities with Hayward, who has enjoyed a breakout season for Utah.
  • Speaking of Stephenson, Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said the much-maligned Hornets guard, who he coached in Indiana, is misunderstood and might be a victim of unrealistic expectations in Charlotte, writes Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post. “Obviously he does some stuff out there on the floor that a lot of people don’t agree with,” Shaw said. “That’s just part of maturity with him. But it’s also part of his edge. You see Kevin Garnett on the court, and he’s always talking sometimes to the opponent, but a lot of times to himself, just trying to do what it takes to get himself pumped up to win the game. Lance is much the same way.” The Nuggets are one of a handful of teams that have been linked to Stephenson.
  • The Timberwolves did not put in a waiver claim on Francisco Garcia, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (via Twitter). Garcia was waived on Friday after he declined to be traded to Minnesota, but there were reports that the Wolves may still try to add the veteran off waivers.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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