NBA media day: What we learned

USA TODAY

Published 7:48 PM EDT Sep 24, 2018

NBA media day: What we learned

Familiar faces in new places were among the highlights of Monday's NBA media day.  USA TODAY Sports' Jeff Zillgitt shares his insights on what we learned:

Minnesota coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau acknowledged Jimmy Butler’s trade request and said, “Our job is to seek out the best opportunity for us. … We have to do what’s best for our franchise.” He said multiple times the Timberwolves won’t make a bad deal just to satisfy Butler’s request. The faster Minnesota can get away from the dysfunction, the better. ...

Having played in eight consecutive NBA Finals, LeBron James knows the distance between Golden State and his new team, the Los Angeles Lakers. ...

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich’s wife died during the playoffs, and Popovich didn’t coach the remainder of the season. He was heartfelt Monday in his response to those who reached out to him during a difficult and emotional time. “It was very, very much appreciated, and it was a huge help. I want to thank all those people for the magnanimity and kindness,” Popovich said. ...

Steve Kerr hired his son, Nick, from San Antonio to be the Warriors’ assistant video coordinator. “He stole all of Pop’s secrets, and he brought that information back. Huge binder full of stuff," Kerr joked. ...

New Golden State center DeMarcus Cousins, who is coming off an Achilles injury, is not ready for full-speed, contact drills, Warriors general manager Bob Myers said. ...

Houston forward Carmelo Anthony might be willing to come off the bench for coach Mike D’Antoni. ... 

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More than one Eastern Conference coach made note of James’ move from the East to the West. “What team is going to be the face of the East now?” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. ...

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers veered from talking basketball and encouraged players to vote in November. "It’s more important now than ever,” he said. “We have to go vote. We have to go register. Black men have to go vote. We have to do better, so I talk to my players about it.” ... 

New York center Kristaps Porzingis gave no specifics about his return from ACL surgery, even leaving open the possibility that he misses the 2018-19 season. “Whenever I’m ready, I’m going to be back,” Porzingis said. “I’m getting itchy, and I want to be back on the court as soon as possible. But it won’t happen until I am 110 percent and medically cleared.” Will he play this season? “It’s hard to say,” he said. ... 

Toronto forward Kawhi Leonard spoke, but didn’t say much about his departure from San Antonio. But he cracked a smile and said he was a "fun guy".

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra says Dywane Wade will look for ways to reinvent himself in his final NBA season. ...

Celtics coach Brad Stevens wants his team to improve offensively. Obviously, a healthy Gordon Hayward, who missed 81 games last season, plus the playoffs, and Kyrie Irving, who missed the final 15 games plus the playoffs, will help Boston’s offense. Plus, Stevens said Hayward will have the opportunity to be the primary ball-handler and create a more versatile offense. ...

Speaking of Irving, he said all the right things about his future with the Celtics. ...

Golden State's Klay Thompson, like Irving, will be one of the top free agents available next summer. "When guys go into free agency, they're looking for situations like mine. I'm content." ... 

Utah lost to Houston 4-1 in the Western Conference semifinals last season, and center Rudy Gobert says, “As a team, we’re going to be the best we’ve been so far.” But does that mean the Jazz can beat the Rockets in a playoff series this season?

Washington forward Markieff Morris put it bluntly: “We just got to go out there and perform. I’m tired of talking about our roster.” That’s exactly what these Wizards, who lost in the first round of the playoffs, need. Less talking, more performing. ...

Charlotte coach James Borrego likes what he sees from Jeremy Lamb and rookie Miles Bridges and says Tony Parker, who left San Antonio after spending his entire career there, has bought into his role as veteran sage and backup to Kemba Walker. ...

By signing Kevin Love to a long-term extension, the Cavaliers made it clear they weren’t interested in tanking following James’ departure. Coach Ty Lue reiterated that Monday. “(Cavs owner) Dan Gilbert is committed to keeping a competitive product on the floor that has a chance to win and make the playoffs every year,” Lue said. ... 

San Antonio big man LaMarcus Aldridge said the Spurs will be a better team this season. It seems like that might be shade thrown at Leonard, but Leonard played in just nine games last season, and the Spurs will have DeMar DeRozan for a full season. The Spurs indeed could be a better team even without Leonard, Manu Ginobili (retired) and Tony Parker (signed with Charlotte). ... 

Denver has an emerging star in guard Gary Harris. “I think he’s one of the premier two-way players in the league,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said. Malone also wants Harris to grow into a bigger leadership role on a team that finished 46-36 and just missed the playoffs last season.

Follow Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

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