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Northwest Notes: Durant, Kanter, Gasol

Kevin Durant has returned to practice for the first time since his latest surgery, Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman reports. “ [Durant] Went through some of the practice today,” coach Scott Brooks said. “Did some 3-on-3.” Oklahoma City is 18-20 on the season without Durant in the lineup. Russell Westbrook has played in 22 of those games and the team has gone during 12-10 during those contests.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division

  • Since his arrival in Oklahoma City, Enes Kanter is playing more minutes at the center position and the big man is happy with his role, Slater notes in the same piece. “Only thing I want to do is give confidence to my teammates,” Kanter said. “Every time down the court I want them to take those shots. I want the point guards, the forwards to feel free to take those shots and know that the big is down there trying to get that rebound.” Kanter is averaging 4.4 offensive rebounds per game since becoming a member of the Thunder.
  • The Thunder made a hard push to sign Pau Gasol last offseason. Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Scott Brooks all met with Gasol in Los Angeles in an attempt to recruit him to Oklahoma City, but, as the big man tells Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman, he’s happy with the decision he made. “At some point I had to make a decision on where I thought I would fit better as a basketball player,” Gasol said. “And I think so far it’s been proven that I made a pretty good choice.”  The 34-year-old ended up signing a contract with the Bulls that will pay him roughly $22MM over three years.
  • Justin Hamilton has fit in well since arriving in Minnesota, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. “He knows how to play,” President of Basketball Operations and coach Flip Saunders said. “Sometimes you need to put some guys in there who won’t screw it up for somebody else. Sometimes you just need a guy you can put in there. He’s a 7-foot Robbie Hummel. He’s going to go in there, know every coverage and what he needs to do. If he gets beat, it won’t be because he made a mental mistake.” The Wolves claimed Hamilton after the Pelicans waived him earlier this month.
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