Jazz coach Quin Snyder refuted a report by Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com that stated that the Jazz had lost faith in Elijah Millsap because of his poor shot selection and defensive shortcomings, Ben Dowsett of Basketball Insiders relays in a series of tweets. Snyder said that he checked in with Millsap each week over the summer, and that he was pleased with the progress the 27-year-old guard was making, Dowsett adds. The coach stopped short of saying that Millsap, whose contract is non-guaranteed, would make the regular season roster, but it does appear that the franchise is still invested in his development, Dowsett notes.
Here’s what else is happening in the Northwest Division:
- Blazers rookie forward Cliff Alexander is hoping to put his difficult freshman season at Kansas behind him and to try and parlay his athleticism and rebounding skills into a regular season roster spot with the team, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes. Alexander went undrafted this year after entering his freshman campaign as a projected lottery pick.
- Nemanja Bjelica has already impressed interim Timberwolves coach Sam Mitchell with his wide range of skills, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. “[He’s] very smart, moves the ball, can shoot the ball, just wants to play, unselfish to a fault,” Mitchell said of the 27-year-old rookie. “I like the way he plays. I’ve seen him on tape, but I like him a lot more in person.”
- Thunder coach Billy Donovan is entering his first season as an NBA head man, but the players are excited about the possibilities that he brings with him to the team, Susan Bible of Basketball Insiders writes. But there is still a level of uncertainty for the players with any rookie coach, which is something that forward Nick Collison admitted, Bible adds. “I really won’t know until we get in the season,” Collison said when asked about Donovan. “I think he’s a real high-energy guy, and he’s also very experienced. I feel like our organization does a real good job with providing everything we need. I think they do a lot of work in everything they do, so I assume a coaching change, they put a lot of work into that and feel good about him, so I’m going to put a lot of faith in that. I’ve had quite a few meetings with him already, and I like what he’s talking about. [We’ll] see how it goes. I’ve had a lot of coaches before, so the one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t really know until you get into it, so we’ll see how it goes.”