Western Notes: Wolves, Lakers, Blazers

Wolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell told Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune in a wide-ranging Q&A that the team did not stop believing in Anthony Bennett and instead reached a buyout deal with the young player because the team had enough depth.

“I wouldn’€™t say we gave up on him,” Mitchell said. “Look at the sheer numbers at that position and even take K.G. out of the equation and we have three, four guys who can play power forward. We just felt we had an overabundance of people at that position. It wasn’€™t us giving up on A.B. I think A.B. came to us. His representative felt like they’€™d have a better chance somewhere else with a fresh start. We never approached A.B. with that [a contract buyout].”

The entire interview is worth a read because it is as entertaining as it is informative.

Here’s more on the Western Conference:

  • Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak dismissed the idea that the franchise is concerned about Nick Young‘s personality and instead, Kupchak pointed out that Young suffered through injuries and a career-worst shooting season, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News writes. The Lakers tried trading Young this offseason, only to keep him after failing to find any suitors.
  • After signing the richest contract in Blazers history — a five year, $120MM extension — and now without LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews on the team, Damian Lillard is ready to take on a leadership role with Portland, Jason Quick of The Oregonian writes in a lengthy profile that is definitely worth a read. Lillard, as Quick points out, got off to a good start with a big team-building event during the summer.
  • Maurice Harkless, who was acquired by the Blazers from the Magic in July, is only 22 and has plenty of room to grow in Portland’s system, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes. Harkless will make $2,894,059 in the final year of his rookie deal, as Richman points out.

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