Northwest Notes: Mitchell, Mensah-Bonsu, Neto

Raptors coach Dwane Casey believes that Timberwolves interim head man Sam Mitchell will be an improved leader now that he is getting another head coaching opportunity, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune writes. “Huge,” Casey said of the difference between the first and second times around as a coach. “You learn so much from your mistakes, more from your mistakes than the success you have. So I’m sure Sam has learned. I don’t know a coach who has been fired who felt like he should have been fired. I didn’t feel like I should have been fired in Minnesota. We were in the playoff hunt. You never feel that way. I made mistakes in Minnesota. Everybody does. But you learn from them, you grow from them. I’m sure Sam has. He’ll tell you that.

Mitchell agrees with Casey’s assessment, and said that he is a better coach now because of his past failures, Zgoda notes. “You just try to get better,” Mitchell said. “You try to have more patience. You understand Rome wasn’t built in a day and you’re not going to win a championship in a day. You understand the process, the ups and downs a little bit better. You understand how difficult the league is. Everybody wants to win right now, but it just doesn’t work. You put in your time and you keep your players focused, understanding it’s a process.

Here’s the latest from the Northwest Division:

  • Former NBA player Pops Mensah-Bonsu has officially retired from the game, Mark Woods of relays. The 32-year-old was in training camp with the Nuggets last year, but left the team due to personal reasons. Mensah-Bonsu appeared in 61 combined games over the course of his career and owns averages of 3.0 points and 3.0 rebounds to accompany a shooting line of .410/.000/.589.
  • Rookie Jazz point guard Raul Neto, who will be counted on in Utah’s rotation with Dante Exum expected to miss the season, is becoming more comfortable with the team’s system as well as life in the U.S., Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News writes. “Each game I’m getting more comfortable with the team and with the plays, with everything, so I’m feeling great,’’ Neto told Sorensen. “You always have somebody close to you, helping you. I really like it here.’’
  • With the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge via free agency this summer, Damian Lillard is poised to have big season, according to teammate C.J. McCollum, Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders relays. “I just expect him to continue to do a lot of the things he has done in the past: being a good leader, orchestrating the offense, being aggressive like he has been and just being a killer,” McCollum said of Lillard. “I always joke with him and tell him this is just like when he was at Weber State only he’s got more help. He’s going to take on the bulk load of attention from an in-game standpoint and a media standpoint so a lot of pressure is going to be on him, but I think he’s ready for it. Offensively, he has all the tools to be an All-Star again….

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