Northwest Notes: Brown, Gay, Lillard, Trail Blazers

New Nuggets addition Bruce Brown seems to be the exact defensive puzzle piece the team had been missing, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscriber-exclusive link).

“When I realized that Bruce was still available (as a free agent), that was, ‘Hey man, this is a guy that we need,’” head coach Michael Malone said, adding that he communicated that to team GM Calvin Booth during the offseason. “You might score on him, but he’s not gonna back down.”

The 26-year-old inked a two-year, $13MM deal with the Nuggets this summer.

Singer notes that the 6’4″ Brown possesses a versatility that allows him to cover opposing positions ranging from point guards to power forwards, and can function in a variety of ways on offense as well. Malone has been making a concerted effort to play Brown at the point to see what he can do as a play-maker.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz face some tough choices when it comes to how they want to use veteran power forward Rudy Gay this season, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. As Todd outlines, the team could look to showcase the 36-year-old either to boost his trade value or to use him as a mentor to their rebuilding roster, or the club could opt to waive the remaining two years and $12.7MM remaining on his current contract.
  • Though Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard could have demanded a trade out of town, he decided instead to stick around as the team re-tools. Logan Murdock of The Ringer details how Lillard questioned the team’s direction following a 2021 first-round playoff exit. “It just had reached the point where I was like, ‘Is what I want the same as what the organization wants?’” Lillard told Murdock. “Do we actually want to win, or is it a situation where, ‘We’re going to be good enough, we know Dame is going to put his best foot forward and it’s going to be entertaining, we’re going to be competitive, we’re going to have a chance in the playoffs.’”
  • Following an underwhelming 1-4 preseason finish, which included three blowout defeats, the Trail Blazers and second-year head coach Chauncey Billups could have a rough road reaching even a .500 record, let alone a postseason return, opines Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian (subscriber-exclusive link).
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