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Northwest Notes: Exum, Oladipo, Wolters, Garnett

Jazz point guard Dante Exum proclaims himself fully healed from the ACL injury that wiped out last season, writes Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Exum suffered the injury in August of 2015 while playing for the Australian national team and says the mental anguish was worse than the physical pain. “There were plenty of times where I wondered, why me,” Exum told The Tribune. “I wondered if I would be the guy I was before the injury. I was supposed to go home to Australia the next day, and I hadn’t been home in a year. I wondered, what’s going to happen with the Jazz? That was the pain I was going through.” With Utah’s training camp opening this week, Exum says his knee feels stronger than ever and his speed, leaping ability and explosive first step have all returned. Exum, who started 41 games during his rookie season, will ease back into the NBA in a reserve role after the Jazz made an offseason deal for George Hill.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • For several years, the Thunder have tried to surround their stars with “3-and-D” players, but Victor Oladipo tells Erik Horne of The Oklahoman that he wants to be more than that. Oladipo, who came to Oklahoma City in a draft-day trade involving Serge Ibaka, is expected to start alongside MVP candidate Russell Westbrook in the OKC backcourt, but he doesn’t see himself as just a complementary player. “I don’t just want to be a three-point shooter. I don’t just want to be a defensive stopper,” Oladipo said. “I want to be one of the best players in this league, and in order to do that, you have to affect the game on both ends and do multiple things.”
  • Coming off an impressive season in Turkey, Nate Wolters is hoping to work his way back into the NBA with the Nuggets, relays Jake Rauchbach of Basketball Insiders. The 38th pick in the 2013 draft, Wolters spent two seasons with the Bucks and Pelicans before heading overseas last year. He is projected as the fourth point guard on Denver’s roster, but is hoping to make an impression at training camp. “When you’re trying to make a team, there is kind of a fine line between trying to do too much and proving yourself,” Wolters said. “But still, at the same time, you want to be aggressive so they notice you a little bit. [I’ll] just try to run the team and then kind of pick my spots when I feel like I can be aggressive and try to make plays.”
  • Timberwolves coach/executive Tom Thibodeau has issued a statement honoring Kevin Garnett upon his retirement, relays The Star-Tribune. “Kevin will always be remembered for the way in which he played the game,” Thibodeau said. “His fierce competitiveness, his unequaled passion for the game and the many ways in which he cared about this team was truly special. KG is without question the all-time best player to wear a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, and he is also one of the best ever to play this game.’’

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