Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Leonard, Donovan

Melvin Hunt proved he could handle being an NBA head coach, and he’s one of four top candidates for the Nuggets job, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Hunt was appointed interim head coach when Brian Shaw was fired in early March. Dempsey notes that Hunt has been with the organization since 2009, and contends that he fixed the team’s problems with focus and effort that got Shaw fired. Dempsey also examines the other three top candidates, Alvin Gentry, Mike D’Antoni and Scott Brooks.

There’s more news from the Northwest Division:

  • Among the many decisions the Blazers face this offseason is whether to offer an extension to Meyers Leonard, according to Jabari Young of The third-year stretch four will make a little more than $3MM next season and showed signs of improvement throughout the year. One way he has attempted to better his game is by watching other NBA big men. “I’m trying to become as much as a total player as I can be,” Leonard said. “… Every now and then there is bits and pieces that I try and take out of people’s games.”
  • The pressure will be intense on Billy Donovan to win right away with the Thunder, contends Dave Leonardis of Bleacher Report. Donovan, who led Florida to four Final Fours, is coming to an organization that missed the playoffs this season after a long run of success. The Thunder are in need of a quick turnaround with Kevin Durant‘s free agency looming next summer.
  • It was an easy decision for the WolvesChase Budinger to exercise his $5MM player option for next season, writes Phil Ervin of Fox Sports North.  Injuries and spotty playing time have drained Budinger’s potential free agent value, Ervin argues, and a strong showing next season could help him rebuild it.

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