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Northwest Notes: Malone, Russell, Bjelica

Michael Malone sought Wednesday to dismiss the idea that he and Pete D’Alessandro had a poor relationship during their time as coach and GM, respectively, of the Kings, as Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes from Malone’s introductory press conference as coach of the Nuggets. D’Alessandro, whom the Nuggets hired to a front office position shortly before they hired the coach, and Malone reportedly weren’t on speaking terms before Malone’s firing in Sacramento, but Malone insists they’ve maintained a consistent dialogue, as Dempsey relays.

“Pete and I have always respected each other, have always gotten along,” Malone said. “It was just that sometimes, the environment that we were working in was not conducive to a healthy relationship.”

That apparent jab at the Kings aside, there’s more on the Nuggets amid the latest from around the Northwest Division:

  • Ohio State playmaker D’Angelo Russell is working out for the Timberwolves today, a visit that the team pushed for as its maintained that he’s a consideration for them with the No. 1 overall pick, reports Chad Ford of (Twitter link).
  • Wolves draft-and-stash prospect Nemanja Bjelica has told the manager of his Turkish team that he wants to head to the NBA, and the Fenerbahce Ulker team official assumes that Bjelica, the Euroleague MVP, won’t be back with the club (video link; translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia).
  • Joel Freeland doesn’t expect the Blazers to tender him the nearly $3.767MM qualifying offer it would take for the club to make him a restricted free agent this summer, as Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group hears (Twitter link). If that’s the case, he’d become an unrestricted free agent, but while the native of England is reportedly drawing interest from overseas, he’s said he’d prefer to stay in the NBA.
  • Nuggets team president Josh Kroenke, with duties that entail the work of ownership as well as those usually assigned to a GM, is clearly the man who calls the shots in Denver, as Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post observes.

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