Northwest Notes: Waiters, Saunders, Connaughton

Dion Waiters doesn’t see any holes on the Thunder‘s roster, and he’s particularly impressed with new coach Billy Donovan and his staff, as he tells Nick Gallo of Former NBA head coaches Monty Williams and Maurice Cheeks are among the assistants.

“I think they did a hell of a job as far as coaches, bringing in guys with experience who have been there before,” Waiters said. “They know what they’re doing. For a guy like myself, a young guy, I need those type of people around me so I can pick their brain.”

Waiters would become a restricted free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign an extension by October 31st. Here’s more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor conveyed optimism as he spoke about coach/executive Flip Saunders in the wake of the team’s revelation of his cancer diagnosis, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune relays (All Twitter links). The team will work around Saunders’ treatment schedule, Taylor said. “Something like this goes beyond basketball, that’s real life,” he said. “We all take care of each other.”
  • The Baltimore Orioles drafted and signed Pat Connaughton a year before he joined the Trail Blazers, but basketball comes first for the former Notre Dame standout, as Ian Thomsen of details. GM Neil Olshey is adamant that Connaughton, whom Portland took with the 41st overall pick in the NBA draft this year, won’t be playing professional baseball while he’s on his three-year deal with the Blazers, but Olshey won’t close the door on a long-term two-sport future for the shooting guard/right-handed pitcher. “Now, look,” Olshey said, “if he gets into a second contract down the road and that is something he wants to pursue, then that can be a discussion point …” 
  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, himself a two-sport athlete, said the C’s almost drafted Connaughton, Thomsen notes in the same piece. Boston had the 33rd and 45th overall picks.
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