Northwest Notes: Leonard, Blazers, Nuggets, Hill

Things worked out fine for Meyers Leonard in Portland, but not without some difficulty, writes Oliver Maroney of Basketball Insiders. Leonard turned down a $40MM extension offer from the Blazers in 2015 in hopes of cashing in as a free agent. Instead, he suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder in March and missed the rest of the season, throwing a wrench into his free agency plans. “It was a complete nightmare last year,” Leonard said. “Last year was the hardest year of my life, not even close. I lied to my entire family the whole year. I told them I was okay, I wasn’t. I came from nothing and I turned down $40 million.” Ultimately, the Blazers chose to keep Leonard, giving him $41MM over four seasons.

There’s more tonight from the Northwest Division:

  • Off to a disappointing start, the Blazers would likely have to surrender guard C.J. McCollum in any deal to bring in a star, Sports Illustrated writer Ben Golliver said in an interview with John Canzano of The Oregonian. Portland would probably be reluctant to part with McCollum after giving him a maximum extension in July.
  • Denver doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to attracting top free agents, but coach Michael Malone hopes that will change soon, relays Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. The Nuggets made a strong play for Dwyane Wade over the summer and believe they can improve enough to become an attractive destination. “I think once you get guys to Denver, a lot of people fall in love with it,” Malone said. “We’ve have veterans on our team, Darrell Arthur, [Danilo] Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, they don’t want to leave. Darrell Arthur told his agent, ‘Listen, get it done with Denver, I don’t want to go anywhere else.’ I think that speaks more than anything I can say, the fact that once you’re there and the quality of life and how beautiful it is, I think Denver sells itself.”
  • The Pacers thought they needed to unload George Hill to switch to an up-tempo style, and the Jazz were happy to take him, writes Nate Taylor of The USA Today Network. Hill has brought stability to the point guard position in Utah, while providing the Jazz with an upgrade in ballhandling and defense. “I knew he was a good defensive player, a team player, an unselfish guy,” said teammate Rudy Gobert. “I thought that was great for our team. A guy that’s tough and unselfish and can shoot the ball and create. He can do a lot of things. I knew he was a very good player.”
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