The acquisition of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants by the Pacers will certainly change how teams around the NBA without their own affiliates utilize the D-League. The Blazers severed their partnership with the Idaho Stampede, who are now the Jazz‘s affiliate, at the completion of the 2013/14 campaign, but not having a D-League franchise of its own hasn’t hurt Portland’s player development yet, Mike Richman of the Oregonian opines. The franchise was still able to add point guard Tim Frazier last season, who was the D-League’s MVP and Rookie of the Year, despite not having their own affiliate, Richman notes. Establishing its own D-League affiliate isn’t currently a priority for Portland, Richman adds.
Here’s more out of the Northwest Division:
- Timberwolves GM Milt Newton, who’s in charge of the team’s front office while Flip Saunders recovers from cancer, wants to add two more players for training camp and he’ll need to unload one of the team’s 16 fully guaranteed contracts before opening night, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link).
- Kevin Durant expressed his admiration for what teammate Russell Westbrook was able to accomplish last season with the rash of injuries the Thunder had suffered, including Durant himself missing a total of 55 contests, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report writes. “It was amazing to see a guy at the point guard position take over the game from all aspects and will his team with his passion, his enthusiasm, his energy on top of his skill,” Durant said. “It was incredible to watch. I was [expletive] I wasn’t out there to help him out. But I could tell he learned a lot and gained a lot of confidence.“
- The Nuggets are in for a long, difficult season, but the franchise does possess solid building blocks in Jusuf Nurkic and Emmanuel Mudiay, as well as a revitalized Danilo Gallinari, which should give the team hope for the future, writes Tim Bontemps of The New York Post (Facebook link) in his season preview.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.