Kenneth Faried has the inside track to remain the Nuggets’ starting power forward when the season starts, according to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Coach Michael Malone wanted to have a competition at that spot, but no one appears to be a serious threat to Faried. Darrell Arthur is still recovering from offseason knee surgery and will be phased in slowly. Denver sometimes uses Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler at power forward, but usually just in short bursts to speed up the game. It’s possible that Malone will decide to start Jusuf Nurkic at center and slide Nikola Jokic over to the four spot, but Dempsey believes the most likely outcome is Faried starting on opening night.
There’s more news from the Northwest Division:
- The Nuggets may get their own D-League team again, possibly by next season, Dempsey writes in a separate story. Denver last had a direct affiliate in 2009 with the Colorado 14ers, who moved to Texas and hooked up with the Dallas Mavericks.
- Alex Abrines waited to make the leap to the Thunder until he saw an opportunity for playing time, writes Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. That chance came when Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City for Golden State and created a huge opening on the wing. OKC has owned Abrines’ rights since 2013, when it took him 32nd in the draft. The 23-year-old shooting guard has been playing in Spain ever since, but now he believes there’s a chance to make an impact with the Thunder. “Once KD left, I think there was a spot at the three position,” Abrines said. “Also I can play the two. I thought I had a chance to come here and grab some minutes. I don’t want to be here and just practice.”
- Two veterans fighting for spots on the Timberwolves‘ roster, John Lucas III and Rasual Butler, know what to expect from coach Tom Thibodeau because they’ve played for him before, notes Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune. Both players are 37 and have non-guaranteed contracts, but they came into camp with a decent shot to make the team. Minnesota has 17 players in camp, including Nikola Pekovic, who will be kept on the roster but won’t play this season because of injuries. Butler played for Thibodeau in Chicago briefly in 2010/11, and Lucas and Thibodeau teamed up with both the Rockets and Bulls.