Northwest Notes: Shaw, Neal, Billups

Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders continues to assert that Gary Neal is a part of the franchise’s future, Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune writes. “We traded for him and everybody — all the experts — thought we were going to buy him out,” Saunders said. “And I said we weren’t. We traded for him. We thought he was a good player and we thought he might have a future. We thought we’d bring him in, let him play with our guys and see how he would blend in.”  Neal will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Now that the deadline has passed for players to reach buyout arrangements and still be eligible to appear in the playoffs for a new team, Neal is staying positive about his situation in Minnesota, Youngblood adds. “I’m a basketball player and Flip has given me an opportunity to come in here and play,” said Neal. “I don’t have any complaints. The way the team is set up, with K-Mart [Kevin Martin] being out tonight, your role can change from day to day. All you ask for is an opportunity to come in and play, and Flip has been fair with me on that.
  • Brian Shaw is better off no longer coaching a petulant group of Nuggets, opines Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. The problem extends to the front office, as Kiszla argues in a separate column, suggesting it would be difficult for any coach to succeed in Denver.
  • The Nuggets should consider hiring former NBA player Chauncey Billups as their next coach, Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post opines. Billups, who has expressed some level of interest in a front office position now that his playing career has ended, is not as old school a personality as Shaw was, which would be a more ideal fit with Denver’s current group of players, Hochman adds.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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