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Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Grant, Wolves, Jazz

Dwyane Wade‘s endorsement of the Nuggets is a sign that the organization may become more attractive to free agents, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. With a little less than $79MM committed in salary for next season, Denver hopes to be aggressive on the free agent market next summer. The team understands that winning is an important element when it comes to attracting stars. “I think our fans were able to realize that ‘OK, the Nuggets are serious about winning. And they are willing to go out there and try and sign a marquee player,’” said coach Michael Malone.

There’s more tonight from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder have been happy with the production of Jerami Grant, but communication on defense is still an issue, according to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. Since being acquired from Philadelphia in a November 1st trade, Grant is shooting better than 47% from 3-point range and has more than a block per game. He is adopting the role once filled by Serge Ibaka and his playing time has risen to more than 20 minutes per night. “Jerami’s a long, rangy defender that in the right spot causes a lot of problems,”  said coach Billy Donovan. “In the wrong spot, we’re now trying to play catch-up. And it’s not just with Jerami. It could be any one of our players where that’s happening, and we’ve all consistently got to do a better job of doing that.”
  • ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy remains a believer in the Timberwolves despite their slow start, relays Jerry Zgoda of The Star-Tribune. Van Gundy is still close with Minnesota coach/executive Tom Thibodeau, who worked as his assistant in New York and Houston, and is confident he will turn things around. “I was thinking today: If there was no salary cap, what players wouldn’t you trade Karl-Anthony Towns for,” Van Gundy asked. “Steph Curry? That’s a no. Is Kevin Durant a no? Is Anthony Davis a no, because of his durability? How many can you come up with? I mean, they have a future. There are a lot of young teams that all they are is young. That doesn’t mean they have a chance to be good. Minnesota has a chance to be really good, but there are moves that need to be made to shore up [their weaknesses].”
  • Early-season injuries have prevented the Jazz from showing how good they could be, contends Randy Hollis of The Deseret News. The team has played long stretches without George Hill, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Boris Diaw. In addition, Alec Burks hasn’t been on the court at all.

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