With the Nuggets doling out a four-year, $48MM extension to Ty Lawson and the Thunder ruling out a deal with Eric Maynor, the rookie-scale extension drama is over for Northwest Division teams. Instead, the division's executives are focusing on other methods of building their teams as the season begins, and a couple of them have weighed in with reporters. Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune shares insight from Kevin O'Connor, executive vice president of basketball operations for the Jazz, while Timberwolves GM David Kahn sat down with Ray Richardson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Both pieces are worth a full read, but we'll break down the highlights here.
- O'Connor compared the bounty of interior players the Jazz have to a baseball team with plenty of starting pitching, saying you can never have too much of either. "What it's going to do is help our team," he said. "You can't feelings get hurt because they don't play as well as they're supposed to and somebody else plays, that's not what the coach is concerned. What he's concerned with is how those guys can help us win. But if you look at the teams that won last year, all of the teams that won had pretty darn good depth especially at big guy positions. A couple of years ago you had (Andrew) Bynum and (Pau) Gasol and Lamar Odom. I'm happy that we have that. I'm please that the guys have continued to improve."
- The Jazz executive also spoke about what the James Harden trade meant for the Thunder. "They weren't able to pay him," he said. "They paid three other guys (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka). I think that sends a signal that Oklahoma City does want to compete and does want to win a championship. There's very few teams that can pay everybody. I don't need to mention names but I think you know who they are, that can."
- Kahn addressed the attention the Wolves have received for having only five black players, pointing to the diversity of the roster that includes five players from overseas. "Since I've arrived here, it's been imperative for us to cast the widest net possible in attracting talent, whether the players are domestic or international," he said. "What people are seeing is the outgrowth of that. That's how we've been operating and will continue to operate that way."
- He predicted the recently waived Jonny Flynn, whom Kahn drafted sixth overall in 2009, won't be out of the league for long, and spoke about his own future with the Wolves. "I think they're going to keep me around for a few more days," Kahn quipped. "The ownership has an option to pick up (on my contract) whenever the season ends. I'm operating in the manner that everything we're doing is in the best interest of the franchise on a long-term basis. The owner (Glen Taylor) has encouraged me to feel that way and operate that way. Now that we have begun the turnaround, nothing would please me more than to be here with the collection of players we have for an extended period of time. I'm not thinking of anything but that."