Jeff Newton

Northwest Notes: Holmgren, Thunder, Scott, Dunn

Thunder big man Chet Holmgren admits that spending an entire season rehabbing a foot injury was tough, as he told Sam Yip of Hoops Hype.

“Anything like that is gonna be challenging for anybody, but I feel like I’ve stayed the course really well, and I didn’t let my focus, attention to detail or confidence waver,” he said. “It was a challenging year, but I feel like I made the most out of it.”

Holmgren could battle Victor Wembanyama and the rest of the 2023 rookie class for the Rookie of the Year award, since he sat out last season. However, he’s only interested in team goals.

“My focus is on helping this team win games,” he said. Things like Rookie of the Year, and everything else are not important, so I’m just focused on helping the team. Everything else follows the team’s success.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Despite all the assets that Thunder executive Sam Presti has hoarded in recent years, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman doubts he’ll cash a bunch of them in to land a star. Mussatto believes OKC will most likely focus on retaining Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams and Holmgren on rookie scale extensions when they’re eligible, as the team did with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
  • The Timberwolves have named Ernest Scott as head coach of the Iowa Wolves, the team’s G League affiliate, according to a team press release. Nathan Bubes has been named an assistant coach for Iowa, while Michael DiBenedetto will have to dual title of assistant coach and director of operations for the G League team. Scott replaces Jeff Newton, who was previously promoted to assistant coach/quality control coach for the NBA team.
  • Kris Dunn could begin the season in the Jazz‘s starting lineup, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News opines. Todd views Dunn as Utah’s best point guard. However, with Talen Horton-Tucker, Collin Sexton and rookie Keyonte George also in the mix, head coach Will Hardy could go a number of different ways with that key position. Dunn signed a multi-year contract with the Jazz in March.

Timberwolves Notes: Staff Changes, Edwards, Towns

The Timberwolves have promoted college scouting coordinator Josh Gershon to director of basketball intelligence and assistant general manager of the Iowa Wolves, their G League affiliate, the team announced today in a press release. Minnesota also announced the promotions of Jeff Newton (assistant coach/quality control coach) and James White (player development assistant).

White’s name is probably the most recognizable of those three — he was the 31st overall pick in the 2006 draft and appeared in a total of 63 NBA games with the Spurs, Rockets, and Knicks between 2006-13. He has since transitioned to coaching, having been an assistant in Iowa last season. Both he and Newton – who was Iowa’s head coach for the past two years – will join Chris Finch‘s staff in Minnesota.

“All three have earned their new roles and added responsibilities. Working with each has been wonderful,” president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said of Gershon, Newton, and White. “As an organization we have benefited greatly from their unique backgrounds. Excited to see the continued growth of Josh, Jeff and James. All three have tremendously bright futures.”

Here’s more on the T-Wolves:

  • Rising star Anthony Edwards is changing his jersey number from No. 1 to No. 5 for the coming season, per Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. While a number change shouldn’t have any real on-court impact on Edwards, The Athletic’s duo – in detailing the importance of No. 5 to the Timberwolves guard – note that he’s a “vibes player,” so if he feels better wearing his new number, it should only benefit the team. “He’s already a player that has confidence, but I think you’ll see a little step up in his swagger with the No. 5 on his chest,” said Edwards’ friend and business manager Justin Holland.
  • In the latest episode of his Jon Krawczynski Show podcast, the beat writer from The Athletic discusses Karl-Anthony Towns‘ decision to represent the Dominican Republic in the upcoming World Cup, observing that the Timberwolves big man is feeling 100% again after missing most of last season due to a calf injury. “He said it several times, both publicly and privately as well, that he could just feel that that calf was not where it needed to be,” Krawczynski said (per HoopsHype). “And when I caught up with him in Las Vegas, he said that he was feeling fully healthy again, for the first time since before he was injured.”
  • As our roster counts page shows, the Timberwolves are currently carrying 14 players on standard contracts and a pair on two-way deals, with a two-way qualifying offer still on the table for swingman Matt Ryan. If Ryan were to accept that QO, Minnesota would have no open two-way slots left, but would still have room to add up to four additional players to its offseason roster.

Northwest Notes: Nance Jr., Newton, Krejci, Giddey

Larry Nance Jr.,who was shipped to the Trail Blazers as part of the three-team blockbuster deal that landed Lauri Markkanen in Cleveland, believes he’s a piece that could change Portland’s postseason fortunes, as he told Blazers’ website writer Casey Holdahl.

“It’s a team I’ve been rooting for in the playoffs for a while now, just feel like it’s impossible to root against a guy like Dame and CJ (Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum), seems like they have great guys on the roster,” Nance said. “I felt it was an opportunity where I really have a chance to step in and make a difference.

“This is a team that’s been on the edge of something special for a while now and the higher ups in the organization deemed me as someone that could help them get higher. I’m thrilled at the opportunity and I’m really looking forward to taking it. Getting a chance to play with players of this caliber doesn’t come around too often.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves have hired Jeff Newton as their G League coach, according to a team press release. Prior to taking the helm of the Iowa Wolves, Newton spent the last two seasons as an offensive associate/player development coach for the Timberwolves. “Jeff has proven throughout the last couple years that he is dedicated to the Timberwolves overall mission, including developing our young players which makes him a natural choice as the Wolves head coach,” Timberwolves assistant GM Gianluca Pascucci said.
  • The contract that Vit Krejci signed with the Thunder is a four-year deal, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Krejci’s first-year salary of $925,258 is guaranteed. The second year salary of $1,563,518 includes a partial guarantee of $781,759, while his $1,836,096 third-season salary is non-guaranteed. The final year of the deal is a team option at $1,988,598. The draft-and-stash wing was selected in the second round of the 2020 draft and acquired in a draft-night deal with Washington.
  • Thunder first-round pick Josh Giddey is already a big star in his native Australia, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman details. In Melbourne, Australia, his fans snapped up Thunder merchandise after he was drafted, his mother Kim Giddey said. “As soon as the draft ended they all went out to buy Oklahoma merchandise,” she said. “It sold out.”

Timberwolves Assistant Joseph Blair Departs For Wizards

Timberwolves assistant Joseph Blair, who was serving as the club’s Summer League head coach, has departed his post for an assistant position on Wes Unseld Jr.’s staff with the new-look Wizards, reports Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Jon Krawcyznski of The Athletic tweets that Blair will be replaced at the Las Vegas Summer League by Timberwolves assistant coach Jeff Newton, about to embark on his third season in Minnesota. Newton is officially an offensive associate coach and player development coach with the club.

Krawcyznski opines (Twitter link) that this late loss of Blair is a blow for Minnesota. Blair had been set to help revamp the team’s defense after former Timberwolves assistant David Vanterpool left head coach Chris Finch‘s staff for an opportunity with the Nets.

The Wizards, who were the No. 8 seed in the East during the 2020/21 season, have significantly revamped their roster over the summer.

The team traded point guard Russell Westbrook, wing Chandler Hutchison, and draft equity in an epic five-team deal that netted them point guard Spencer Dinwiddie plus valuable role players Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, and Montrezl Harrell, as well as an intriguing young reserve point guard in Aaron Holiday and the draft rights to rookie forward Isaiah Todd, the No. 31 selection out of the NBA G League Ignite.

Washington also re-signed reserve point guard Raul Neto and selected Gonzaga swingman Corey Kispert with the No. 15 pick in this year’s draft.

Wolves Hire Greg Stiemsma, Finalize Coaching Staff

The Timberwolves have hired former NBA center Greg Stiemsma as a player development associate, the team announced today in a press release.

Stiemsma, who will turn 34 later this month, played in the NBA for four years from 2011-15, spending one of those four seasons in Minnesota. He has been out of the league since being waived by the Trail Blazers in the fall of 2016 before the regular season got underway.

Stiemsma is one of a handful of new hires joining the Wolves’ coaching staff, along with Kevin Hanson (assistant coach/director of player development), Jeff Newton (offensive associate/player development coach), and Max Lefevre (video coordinator/player development associate). Kwadzo Ahelegbe and Cole Fisher will also return with added responsibilities, as the team outlines in its press release.

The Wolves’ coaching staff has undergone significant changes since Ryan Saunders was named the permanent head coach earlier this offseason. None of the team’s front-of-the-bench assistants – including Ed Pinckney, Jerry Sichting, Larry Greer, Malik Allen, and John Lucas III – are returning, but the franchise has filled out Saunders’ staff with some notable names.

Veteran Trail Blazers assistant David Vanterpool joined Saunders’ staff in June, as did former NBA point guard Pablo Prigioni. Minnesota also hired veteran assistant Bryan Gates away from Sacramento in July.