Western Notes: Pachulia, Abrines, Babby

Zaza Pachulia is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but the big man wants to return to Dallas and he hopes his strong 2015/16 campaign made an impression on the Mavs‘ front office, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com relays. “Well, I wish I had a lifetime contract, but it’s not the first time. You know, I’ve been a free agent a couple of times now, and it’s a process. You’ve got to be smart with the decisions, so I’m looking forward to it,” Pachulia said. “We’ll see what’s going to happen. I feel real confident. And once the time comes, I think I have made all the right decisions in my career, whether to stay or whether to go. But I’m confident. And with the use of my experience, I hope I’m going to make the right decision that’s best for me and my family. Whoever would come here for this team and for this organization would love it. I mean, very few percentage of the players wouldn’t like here. You know, it’s the city, the fans, the organization, the personality and the heart. This team is all about winning. And if you’re a winner, then definitely this is the place to be.”

Here’s more from out West:

  • The Thunder are extremely high on draft-and-stash prospect Alex Abrines, who beat out Dario Saric for the Euroleague’s Rising Star award, as Royce Young of ESPN.com and international journalist David Pick relay (Twitter links). The 22-year-old signed an extension last May with Barcelona of Spain that carries through the 2018/19 season, and it isn’t known if that pact includes an NBA out clause that would allow Abrines to join Oklahoma City in 2016/17.
  • After spending the past season as a part-time advisor for the Suns, former team president Lon Babby is ending his tenure with the team this week, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic reports. “I’m very appreciative for the opportunity to come to Phoenix, be part of a wonderful community and see and learn a lot of things that have been very gratifying,” Babby said. “I look forward to staying involved here in the community and being more involved with my family. I turned 65 in February and consider myself a full-fledged snowbird.”
  • Former Lakers coach Byron Scott said he was shocked that he was fired by the team, adding that he believed management would give him at least one more season to try to turn around the rebuilding squad, Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com relays. “When you have conversations with guys [team management], you take them for their word,” Scott said. “And that’s what I did. Our conversation a couple of years ago was, ‘This is a rebuilding process. It’s going to take two to three years. It’s going to be very tough. Are you OK with that?’ And as I stated, I said, ‘Yeah I’m OK with it. Are you guys OK with it? If you can deal with it, I can deal with it.’ And so when I said I was ‘blindsided’ by it, I figured I at least had another year to get this thing turned around, and I was preparing for that and looking forward to next year. And then boom, that happened, and I said, ‘Wow.’
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