When the Nuggets rested all five of their starters for the entire fourth quarter in a close loss to the Lakers on Monday night, it was clear that the team was prioritizing health over its playoff seed, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Having been shorthanded throughout the restart, Denver will want to make sure it keeps key players like Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Paul Millsap off the injured list with the playoffs around the corner.
Fortunately for the Nuggets, two of their missing rotation players may be nearing a return. As Singer relays (via Twitter), TNT’s Jared Greenberg said on Monday night’s broadcast that the club is hoping to have Gary Harris and Will Barton available on Friday for the last of eight seeding games. Neither player has suited up so far this summer.
Meanwhile, rookie Vlatko Cancar, who is recovering from a foot fracture, has arrived at the Walt Disney World campus and is in quarantine, according to Singer (Twitter link). Although Cancar isn’t expected to play, the Nuggets can now say their entire team is in Orlando, Singer notes.
Let’s round up a few more notes from around the Northwest…
- Former Suns GM Ryan McDonough, who drafted Devin Booker with the No. 13 pick in 2015, tells Chris Mannix of SI.com that the Thunder tried to trade up one spot from No. 14 in what he believes was an effort to nab Booker themselves. “You could kind of hear or sense the air come out of the (OKC) room,” McDonough said of the moment when he told the Thunder he was drafting Booker. “You could tell they wanted him.”
- Although he has been part of the Thunder‘s rotation for most of his rookie season, Darius Bazley has received a bump in minutes this summer and has responded well, with his first career double-double (22 points, 10 rebounds) on Monday. Nick Gallo of OKCThunder.com notes that Bazley’s play in the restart bodes well for his long-term potential, while Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman points to the 20-year-old’s shot selection as a key reason for his breakout.
- Like Denver, the Jazz are prioritizing staying healthy and developing their bench players as the postseason nears, says Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Miye Oni, Jarrell Brantley, and Rayjon Tucker are among the beneficiaries, playing at least 23 minutes apiece on Monday vs. Dallas.