Northwest Notes: Miller, Novak, Hickson

The Timberwolves‘ willingness to agree to a buyout with Andre Miller demonstrates the team’s commitment to developing its younger players, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune writes. Parting ways with Miller now slides Tyus Jones up the depth chart where he will act as the primary backup to Ricky Rubio, Zgoda notes. “At this point where we are, it’s about giving these guys the opportunity to grow and develop,” interim coach Sam Mitchell said. “We’re never going to get where we need to go until these young guys learn how to play in certain situations.

While he will miss Miller’s veteran presence, the coach agreed with the move to waive the playmaker, Zgoda adds. “Absolutely. Andre has been great. He was great for me. I think he helped Ricky out a lot, and I think he has helped Zach LaVine and Tyus a lot. At this point of the season, he has a chance to sign with a great team like San Antonio that’s going to have a chance to win a championship. I’m happy for Andre,” Mitchell told Zgoda.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • J.J. Hickson relinquished $396,242 of his 2015/16 salary to secure his buyout from the Nuggets, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (on Twitter). Denver is still on the hook for $5,217,258 in salary to the power forward, who signed with the Wizards for the remainder of the season after clearing waivers.
  • The Nuggets also agreed to a buyout arrangement with Steve Novak, who parted with $416,886 of this season’s salary as part of the transaction, Pincus tweets. As a result, the franchise’s cap hit for the combo forward is $3,333,115. Upon clearing waivers Novak signed with the Bucks for the remainder of the campaign.
  • The Trail Blazers have surprised the league with their stellar play of late, as many predicted the franchise would be lottery-bound in 2015/16 after losing LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs via free agency last July. The team may lack star power beyond Lillard, but it makes up for that with excellent locker room chemistry, Jason Quick of relays. “How much we like each other, how much time we spend around each other, that shows you a team that is really together,” Lillard said. “It is a unit, and that makes up for us not being Cleveland. It makes up for us not having LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love. We are a group. We have each other’s back.’’
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