Northwest Rumors: Thunder, Blazers, Batum

When GMs were polled recently on their thoughts about the upcoming season, the only two teams who received consideration to win the Western Conference other than the Lakers were the Thunder and Nuggets. The nod to Oklahoma City is no surprise, but the mention of Denver might have raised a few eyebrows, since the Nuggets haven't gotten out of the first round the past three years. Nuggets coach George Karl would be pleased if his team notched 50 wins, but with Andre Iguodala on board, he believes this year's squad has a chance to break the franchise record of 54 victories, as Aaron J. Lopez of writes. Here's the latest on a couple of the Nuggets' division rivals.

  • The Thunder have 14 players on fully guaranteed deals, and another four with partial guarantees, meaning the team will likely owe money to at least three players who don't make the team. Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman gives reasons why he believes Daniel Orton will edge out DeAndre Liggins for the final regular season spot, adding that it's a decision that may pit GM Sam Presti against coach Scott Brooks (All four Twitter links).
  • Mayberry also believes there's a chance the Thunder could trade Daequan Cook or Lazar Hayward to free up a spot for both Orton and Liggins, but thinks finding a taker for either would be a tough task (All Twitter links).
  • With Demonte Harper and Dallas Lauderdale reportedly about to be waived and sent to the D-League, Mike Tokito of The Oregonian identifies Coby Karl, Adam Morrison and Justin Holiday as other camp invitees the Blazers will probably cut. 
  • Nicolas Batum signed for about $12MM less in his four-year deal than Eric Gordon is getting his four-year contract, but Blazers GM Neil Olshey hopes Batum can increase his scoring this year in a manner similar to 5.4 PPG jump Gordon took from his second year in the league to his third, writes Chris Haynes of
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