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Southwest Notes: Williams, Gentile, Mills

Dwight Howard will start against the Pelicans tonight in his first game since January 23rd, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. That’ll be a boost for Houston as it looks to climb from the third seed in the Western Conference. Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans have decided against signing Elliot Williams for the remainder of the season, tweets John Reid of The Times-Picayune. New Orleans signaled that choice when it signed Toney Douglas to a deal for the balance of 2014/15 on Tuesday, the day after the team’s second 10-day contract with Williams expired.
  • Rockets draft-and-stash prospect Alessandro Gentile doesn’t have an NBA escape clause for 2015 in his contract with Italy’s EA7 Milano, and the deal doesn’t include a buyout provision, either, a source tells HoopsHype. That runs counter to comments EA7 teammate Daniel Hackett made on SkySport television indicating that Gentile has decided to play for the Rockets next season, as Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia notes. Gentile said recently that he’s increasingly intrigued with the NBA and that the Rockets had been in close contact. The small forward is under contract through 2017, as Mark Porcaro shows on our Draft Rights Held Players database.
  • Patty Mills had a shoulder injury that would sideline him for the first two months of the season when the Spurs re-signed him this summer to a three-year, $11MM deal, but Spurs president/coach Gregg Popovich had no reservations about the move. Alexander Wolff of Sports Illustrated has the details in a story that looks at Mills’ heritage and the homage the Spurs have paid to it. “It wasn’t even a question,” Popovich said of the deal. “Obviously he can shoot the basketball and has a lot of energy. But he’s beloved on this team for his enthusiasm, his kindness, his understated gravitas. As long as I’m here, he’s going to be here. Unless we can’t afford him.”
  • The Spurs top ESPN Insider’s Front Office rankings for a second straight year. The synergy between Popovich, GM R.C. Buford and owner Peter Holt, balance between the future and the present, and structuring of player contracts that include salary declines instead of raises help the Spurs stand out, as Chad Ford and Amin Elhassan opine in a separate Insider story.
  • We rounded up the latest on the Mavs earlier today.

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