Northwest Notes: Nelson, Durant, Payne, Neto

Nuggets coach Michael Malone was impressed when Jameer Nelson organized and footed the bill a team getaway to his hometown of Philadelphia this summer, and Nelson has a positive feeling about Denver after initial trepidation, reports Matt Moore of Nelson re-signed with the Nuggets this summer after a midseason trade brought him to the team last season.

“[When I was first traded to Denver], I didn’t know if I wanted to come here,” Nelson said. “I wanted to stay on the East Coast with my family. I had conversations with the GM, my agent, but also with my wife. I was like ‘I don’t want to go.’ I’ve never been in that situation. You don’t know what you’re going to do until you’re in that situation. I gave myself about 10 minutes to think by myself and I’m like, ‘Well, there’s no reason for me not to go. I’m a professional. This is my job, and they’re giving me an opportunity to play.'”

Nelson told Moore that after the Nuggets promised that they wanted him and had a role in mind for him, “everything has come true” and the organization kept its word. The 33-year-old has quickly become the team’s most prominent leader and a mentor for No. 7 overall pick Emmanuel Mudiay, as Moore details. See more from the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams has already made a strong connection with soon-to-be free agent Kevin Durant, a source tells Ken Berger of, who writes in a piece examining the unusual circumstances surrounding new head man Billy Donovan‘s introduction to NBA coaching.
  • Lottery pick Cameron Payne is making a strong impression on the Thunder so far, as The Oklahoman’s Anthony Slater chronicles. “He’s better than I imagined,” Durant said of this year’s No. 14 selection. “A great addition.”
  • Conversely, Jazz coach Quin Snyder is trying to temper expectations surrounding his team’s rookie point guard, observes Jody Genessy of the Deseret News. Draft-and-stash signee Raul Neto dazzled in his preseason debut, and with Dante Exum hurt and Trey Burke coming off a rough season, Neto’s quickly become a fan favorite. “It’s a long year,” Snyder said, “and I don’t want us to get ahead of ourselves — for his sake.”

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