http://www.roundballminingcompany.com/ A Denver Nuggets Blog on the ESPN TrueHoop Network
There is more to blogging than commenting on the latest news story or tossing out another Zoolander reference. One must be willing to dig deep and when it comes to the Denver Nuggets, no one digs deeper than the Roundball Mining Company. Whether it is analyzing the team’s play on the court, personnel decisions, or being the first to report some little tidbit, RMC is always digging to give you the most well thought out and consistent coverage of the Nuggets anywhere. Roundball Mining Company was founded by lifetime Nuggets fan Jeremy Wagner. Current contributors include Kalen Deremo, Charlie Yao, Joel Rush, Matt Cianfrone and Tom Darrow. It may sound like a blog that is all about business, but at RMC there is plenty of fun to be had. A tremendously insightful community of readers who are encouraged to express themselves by providing commentary of their own. Go ahead and make your orange mocha frappuccino run, but do not linger at the gas station so you can get back to your computer or wireless device to follow every step the Nuggets take on their quest to win an NBA championship. Roundball Mining Company, we’ll move the earth for a title.
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Lawson clowns Harden’s D – can he back it up? http://ift.tt/1mblyYV http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Ty Lawson put the smackdown on James Harden via his Instagram feed last week, and to date, Harden has made no response. Smells like Lawson may be on to something. Plenty of players in the NBA get by on lackluster defense. This article posted on House of Houston comments on Harden’s defense, but also notes Nuggets great Alex English as one of those players lacking on the D side. During the 2013-2014 Season, Lawson averaged 2.2 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 4.7 rebounds per 100 possessions (source). Are those numbers going to be good enough to show up Harden for the ’14-’15 season and get the Nuggets deep into the playoffs? Maybe head coach Brian Shaw can use this smack-talk as a motivator to get the Nuggets fired up. Last year, there was much noise about Shaw improving the Nuggets defensive woes. The team finished 36-46 and missed the playoffs for the first time in years. Let’s hope a full offseason of planning and implementing new schemes can make the difference this year. Follow me on Twitter
Faried is doing his thing at the World Cup and that’s good for the Nuggets http://ift.tt/1xcR9xZ http://ift.tt/eA8V8J As some of you may have noticed, the FIBA World Cup is currently in full swing in Spain, and Team USA has, at the time of this writing, won its first four games. Apart from a subpar first half against Turkey, the US has rolled relatively pain-free through these games, despite having lost a lot of big names in the build-up to the tournament. One player who has particularly benefited from players like Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin bowing out of this summer’s USA squad is the Denver Nuggets’ very own Kenneth Faried. Originally predicted to be an outsider for the 12-man selection, he became all but a lock for the team once the biggest stars started dropping out of the squad, each for their own reasons. But Faried was suddenly thrust from possibly being a bit player – if selected at all – into a starting role on a squad seemingly made up of a B or C-selection of players. His job description had quickly changed from being “The Energy Guy Off The Bench” to “Principal Low-Post Player”. But four games in, Faried is thriving. And what’s more, he’s done so through doing what he always does; hustle, run, rebound and hustle some more. Even though this US squad is not the Dream Team reincarnated, it’s still made up of a tremendous amount of talent. The veteran leadership is provided by former MVP Derrick Rose, the backcourt is led by two of the game’s best shooters, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson along with an energized Kyrie Irving, while budding superstar Anthony Davis holds court down low with Faried and talented headcase DeMarcus Cousins. Then there is offensive phenom (and defensive black hole) James Harden, the criminally underrated DeMar DeRozan, the criminally overrated Rudy Gay and promising youngsters Andre Drummond and Mason Plumlee. But let’s focus on Faried. Watching the games has been a fascinating experience for a Nuggets fan like myself, because Faried doesn’t seem to care where he is or who he’s playing with – or against. He goes out with that seemingly endless energy and goes all Manimal on the opponent until he’s pulled off again. While most other players on the team are used to being the focal point of the team, and therefore have had to adjust their game with Team USA, Faried has had the advantage of just going out and doing his thing. He sets picks, gets offensive rebounds (4.0 per game so far, thankyouverymuch), provides effective low-post defense, closing lanes on defense and opening them on offense, waiting to pick up the scraps or getting a handoff whenever he gets open. And he’s done all that extremely effectively. True, the opposition isn’t NBA Playoff-level (or NBA level at all at times), but the way he compares to his teammates still provides a measuring stick for Nuggets fans. It’s been abundantly obvious that he’s a much better player than Andre Drummond at the current point in time, he is more reliable than Cousins and thrives especially well with a tall player next to him in the low post. Seeing him lurk around Anthony Davis, diverting defenders off him or getting open whenever Davis is double-teamed shows how well he can work with a tall center next to him. While Timofey Mozgov will never be another Anthony Davis, this interplay shows an essence of things Brian Shaw should be noting down. He’s also being more composed, however that’s possible, in his seemingly manic, disruptive style on the floor. He breaks down defenses not by crossovers or post-up plays, but by off-ball screens and backdoor cuts, with increasing regularity. One particular instance from the game with Turkey shows a subtle evolution in Faried’s game as well, where he blocked a layup, but instead of swatting it into the stands, he bounced it off the backboard, picked up his own rebound and immediately passed it up-court. He then sauntered down the weakside sideline, dived in behind the defense, received a pass and finished an acrobatic reverse layup with extreme finesse and a soft touch. He does have the luxury of only having to play for 20 to 22 minutes a game so far, but he is using the World Cup to show he’s becoming an even more efficient player than before. He knows his strengths, and plays to those, while subtly expanding his game. And against Turkey, when USA found itself down at half-time, Faried was an outright leader in bringing them back and finishing the game off in impressive fashion. He’s the team’s second-leading scorer with 14.8 points per game and the leading rebounder with 7.8 rebounds per game. He’s shooting a mind-bending .784 from the field (those are mostly dunks, of course), and has hit the only free throw he’s taken so far. He has the highest efficiency rating of anyone on the team. What all this will mean for his upcoming extension is still unknown, but he’s certainly not hurting his stock. He hasn’t been perfect, mind you. I’ve seen him miss defensive rotations and he still struggles with positioning at times on both ends, but he is visibly working on his fundamentals, showing good footwork and honing his shark-like talent for rebounding. Also, he seems to be a good student, as his team awareness on defense seems to be improved under Mike Kryzewski and Tom Thibodeau on Team USA. Faried will face a tougher test in the coming week, as stronger opponents lie ahead, especially if they get into what will very likely be a Spain-USA showdown to decide the title, where he’ll get the unenviable task of slowing down the Gasols and Serge Ibaka, something he’s struggled with so far in his career. If he shows the same sort of effort and efficiency throughout the World Cup as he has so far, it will be very difficult for Josh Kroenke and Tim Connelly to keep his next contract under $10 million a year, though, something that has been mentioned as a potential problem for contract negotiations. But even if he’ll get $10-12 million a year, I believe he’ll be worth it. He’s proving himself as an effective scorer who doesn’t need any plays drawn up for him, standing tall among players who have often been rated above him in the NBA pecking order and showing tangible leadership on a young USA team. He’s also showing himself to be the sort of personality who won’t go for a delusional Bledsoe-type contract hunt, so I believe he’ll take a contract at $10-12 million. Even if he’ll be deemed too expensive for whatever plans the Nuggets have in a year’s time or two (for whatever reason), his reputation is becoming such, through his showing at the World Cup, that trading him for very valuable assets should prove very easy. But if this World Cup has told me anything so far, it’s that I don’t want to trade him at all. Not even at $12 million a year. Have you been following the World Cup? What’s your impression of Team USA and Kenneth Faried? Tell us. Follow me on Twitter
Cavs zealous for Moz: Three reasons why the Nuggets should oblige http://ift.tt/1mTB9XR http://ift.tt/eA8V8J The guy the Cavs are trying to trade for is Tim[ofey] Mozgov from the Denver Nuggets. He played with David [Blatt] with the Russian national team. (…) They have been trying to trade for him for the last six, eight weeks. – See more at: http://ift.tt/1mTBcD4 On Tuesday, longtime LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers reporter Brian Windhorst made an appearance on ESPN Cleveland radio and dropped the following Nuggets-related tidbit: The guy the Cavs are trying to trade for is Tim[ofey] Mozgov from the Denver Nuggets. He played with David [Blatt] with the Russian national team… They have been trying to trade for him for the last six, eight weeks… That’s the guy they want to get their hands on. After the breakout season Mozgov had last year it’s understandable how most fans would harbor an aversion to this news. I too would like to see Mozgov in a Nuggets uniform for two more years, the length of his current contract. But if I’m Tim Connelly, I’m listening to what David Griffin has to say on the phone. Here’s three reasons why… 1. The Nuggets have a surplus of big men. Count: Timofey Mozgov, JaVale McGee, Jusuf Nurkic, Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, J.J. Hickson, Jerrelle Benimon. That’s seven power forwards and centers, not to mention guys like Quincy Miller and Danilo Gallinari, both at least 6-9 and capable of playing power forward for extended stretches at a time. Include those two and the Nuggets are up to nine players who can pass as power forwards or centers. If you’re following the basic math I’ve presented (can you even call it that?) then you understand why the Nuggets should listen to the Cavs: numbers. Pure numbers. The Nuggets have enough of one thing (bigs) to consider listening when people inquire about them. 2. Jusuf Nurkic is a manchild superhuman cyborg titan god poised to devour all things living, deceased or in between on his way to dominance in the NBA. OK, maybe not. But I’d like to think this is the case. Based on his numbers throughout his early and precocious career, you have to think this is the case. And he’s heading to Denver this year. Why, therefore, should he sit around all year behind Mozgov and McGee if he’s as talented as we (meaning I) think he is? People learn to swim best by being thrown in a bottomless pool knowing the only way to survive is to stay afloat. Learning to play basketball at an NBA pace is no different. Nurkic needs to be thrown in the fire. He needs to hit the ground running — or at least trying to run. He is clearly the Nuggets’ center of the future; why bench him for an entire season? As much as I love Mozgov’s defense and improvement over the last year, he’s also 28 years old. Nurkic turned 20 last week. Start JaVale McGee at center, bring Nurkic off the bench, watch him develop, work out his growing pains, improve. It’s the best way to move forward. 3. Mozgov’s value has never been higher. For all we know this is the highest it will ever get. With so many solid bigs on the roster, including two centers, the Nuggets are in pole position, stocked with assets, poised to parlay their chips into prized winnings — if they’re savvy enough. The Nuggets should not accept an average haul for Mozgov. They need some significant goods in return. The Cavs don’t have many players to offer, but they do have draft picks, and lots of them. If the Cavs offer one of their more appealing first-round draft picks, the Nuggets should listen. And if the Nuggets can’t find what they’re looking for from the Cavs, the shouldn’t hesitate to seek out a third party with more intriguing resources. To be clear: In no way am I advocating for trading Timofey Mozgov just to trade him. The Nuggets are a much better team with him than without him. If no deal gets consummated, I consider that a win for the Nuggets. What I’m suggesting is that the Nuggets at least listen, listen good and hard. Are the Cavs desperate? Are they willing to trade more than what Mozgov is worth? How hard are they pushing to get a deal done? Are they becoming myopic? Determined? Obsessive? If this is the case, the Nuggets might be wise to oblige. As we fortunately witnessed in the Carmelo Anthony saga, a team consumed by the quest to obtain one player sometimes overvalues that asset and in turn surrenders much more than they should. Perhaps Tim Connelly can coax the Cavs into a similar situation? Given the Nuggets depth, Mozgov’s value and the Cavs’ insistence on completing a trade, Tim Connelly doesn’t appear to have much to lose. Follow me on Twitter The guy the Cavs are trying to trade for is Tim[ofey] Mozgov from the Denver Nuggets. He played with David [Blatt] with the Russian national team. (…) They have been trying to trade for him for the last six, eight weeks. – See more at: http://ift.tt/1mTBcD4
Nuggets release preseason schedule http://ift.tt/1q6Zn4p http://ift.tt/1t23K4s The Denver Nuggets have released the team’s preseason schedule for 2014. Games begin October 6 against the Los Angeles Lakers in San Diego, CA, and conclude October 24 verses the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. There will be eight games total, including one at the Coors Event Center in Boulder, CO, where attendees will reportedly be encouraged to “BYOB” (Bring Your Own Bud) for a throng-like smoking session prior to tipoff. The latter part of the last sentence is of course unequivocally fictional. Please do not bring weed to the game thinking it’s totally cool to light up outside the arena because Kalen from Roundball Mining Company told you to do so. Below is the full preseason schedule…
Dissecting of the 2014-15 Nuggets schedule: Not much to gripe about http://ift.tt/1sHZp6r http://ift.tt/1pdOmP6 Following yesterday’s NBA schedule release, Kalen offered his initial thoughts and observations about what’s on tap for the Nuggets in 2014-15, and in case you missed it I’d recommend checking that out before proceeding. Here I’ll dig a little deeper into the nuts and bolts of the schedule, and break down the numbers regarding road trips, home stands, back-to-backs and the like. Given that complaining about the schedule has become somewhat of a tradition among NBA fans, I have no doubt that some of our readers will disagree with my take. But having sliced and diced the schedule in various ways, I’d argue that this is just about as reasonable and fair a schedule as any NBA team could ask for. There is nothing comparable in 2014-15 to last year’s Nuggets playing 17 of their first 23 games on the road, for example. There are, of course, tougher and easier stretches of the season, but there’s really nothing excessively brutal or unfair. The schedule stays on a fairly even keel throughout the season. Home stands and road trips Both the longest home stand and the longest road trip for the Nuggets in 2014-15 are five games, and there is only one apiece. The five-game home stand bridges the end of February and beginning of March, and features games against the Nets, Suns, Jazz, Pelicans and Bucks. Later in March, they head out for their five-game road trip, visiting the Pelicans, Grizzlies, Rockets, Heat and Magic. Additionally, Denver has three four-game, and two three-game home stands. They don’t have any four-game road trips, but they have six three-gamers. All in all, the home stand versus road trip situation shakes out pretty equally. Back-to-backs and 4-in-5s The Nuggets have 21 back-to-backs in 2014-15, and four 4-in-5s. On the second game of 16 of those back-to-backs (or in other words, in 76 percent of them), their opponent will have rested. At first glance, that may seem a little unfair. But consider that Denver will also play 18 games when their opponent is on the second night of a back-to-back, and in 15 of them (or 83 percent), they’ll be nice and rested up, too. So, as with the home/road picture, there is not too great of a discrepancy between own and opponent back-to-backs. Month-by-month Roughly speaking, the arc of difficulty in terms of opponent strength is shaped like a smile. The Nuggets will start off the season facing a somewhat high concentration of tough competitors early on, followed by an easier stretch through mid-season, and ending with another tough run down the home stretch. In the chart below I’ve used ESPN’s forecast of the 2014-15 standings (West here and East here) for the projected winning percentage of Denver’s opponents. Granted, some of those predictions are bound to be slightly off or even way off (I think they went low on the Nuggets, for example, in predicting 38 wins). But as a yardstick to roughly take measure of opponent strength, they’re functional for our purposes here. As you can see, the months with the highest projected opponents on average are October/November (.540) and April (.538), bookending the Nuggets’ season. Following November, there is a steady decrease in opponent difficulty straight through February, until it swings up again in March. Denver’s average projected opponent win percentage for the entire season is .509. Even in the most difficult or easiest months, the numbers don’t deviate too far from that. (The greatest deviation is .437 in February). Even before the release of the schedule, we already knew that the beginning of the season would be challenging for the Nuggets, as they work on reintegrating returning players and coalescing in Brian Shaw’s second year as head coach. So a tough November may be the schedule’s most unfavorable aspect for Denver. On the other hand, if they can do just good enough in those first two months to stay in sight of the playoff picture while they’re hopefully getting their act together, they’ll be well positioned to make some noise in 2015 as they face some easier competition. One final note on the month-to-month situation is that the contrast between home/road and opponent strength tends to be another balancing factor in Denver’s schedule. December sees some stiff competition, but they also play 56 percent of their games at home. Conversely, while they have a run of easier opponents in February, they only play 40 percent of their games at home that month. Things just seem to pretty much even out in this schedule, at least inasmuch as could be expected. National TV If you’re a fan of seeing the Nuggets on the nationwide stage, then one of the more disappointing aspects of this season might be the fact that they only have five national television broadcasts this season. I personally don’t mind. They were a lottery team last season, and they don’t have any real marquee stars to drive up ratings. And frankly, I like this team better flying under the radar, as underdogs trying to defy low expectations. But I will miss seeing them on TNT more, since that’s just fun. As always, thanks for reading and keep it dialed in here at Roundball Mining Company for all your latest Nuggets news and analysis. You can follow me on Twitter here: @denbutsu
Nuggets sign Benimon http://ift.tt/VoM3xk http://ift.tt/eA8V8J According to Shams Charania of RealGM.com, the Denver Nuggets have signed undrafted rookie Jerrelle Benimon out of Towson. The deal is for two years and is partially guaranteed. This brings the number of players on the Nuggets’ roster to 16, which is allowable over the summer, however the team must have the final roster trimmed to 15 by the start of the regular season. Given Quincy Miller and Erick Green also have non-guaranteed contracts, there might be a chance Benimon snags the last roster spot at the expense of those two if he impresses enough over the next few months. Benimon had a monster career at Towson, especially in his final season, and performed well for the Nuggets at Summer League. The website Upside and Motor has had great things to say about him this summer in two separate articles by Sam Vecenie and Adam Reisinger. Per Vecenie: Benimon is one of the most interesting undrafted prospects from the 2014 draft. He was probably the second best statistical player in the NCAA last season after Alan Williams. The extremely versatile Towson product was the only NCAA forward last season to have a true shooting percentage above 55 percent (his was nearly 60 percent), have a rebounding rate above 17 percent, and and an assist rate above 20 percent. It would be pretty fair to call him Towson’s entire offense last season, and he combined all of those skills for a PER of 26.9. Undoubtedly his best skill is his rebounding, where he was third in the NCAA the past two seasons and averaged 11 per game in summer league for the Nuggets. Adam Reisinger of ESPN did a writeup of Benimon for Hardwood Paroxysm during summer league, and if you want to learn more about him I will point you in that direction happily. And Reisinger: Benimon is trying to score an NBA roster spot after going undrafted out of Towson University, where he finished third in Division I in rebounds per game (11.2) in each of the last two seasons. Benimon wrapped up his three-game stint with the Nuggets in Las Vegas averaging 11.3 rebounds per game (15.1 per 36 minutes), ranking among the Summer League leaders. “That’s one of [those skills],” he said. “Teams are always looking for rebounders, so it always counts if you can rebound the ball.” The 22-year-old Benimon posted a true shooting percentage of 59.6% as a senior last season, but shot just 31.8% beyond the shorter college three-point arc. He knocked down his only 3-point attempt on Friday, as he tries to show teams he’s more than just an inside scorer. In all likelihood, this is simply a way to reward Benimon for his play at Summer League and give him a chance to make a team somewhere else. However, Quincy Miller and Erick Green have yet to prove their worth at the NBA level, making this an interesting scenario to monitor. As always, stay tuned as details continue to emerge. Follow me on Twitter
Nuggets release 2014-15 schedule http://ift.tt/1t0u5xe http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Has the summer flown by or what? Just months ago the Nuggets worst season in a decade concluded. Weeks ago the Nuggets completed one of their most impressive drafts in recent memory. And now, only days after European vacation commenced, the Nuggets 2014-15 schedule has been released. Sticking with this summer’s theme, Roundball Mining Company may or may not analyze this news in great detail. Truth be told, I’ve never been a huge schedule-release guy. I mean, isn’t it sort of the same thing every year? You play the same teams in your division and the same teams in the rest of the league the same amount of times, right? Anyways, a few brief observations… The Nuggets open the season against the Pistons on Wednesday, October 29. In the 10 games following opening night the Nuggets will face the Cavaliers, Blazers and Thunder twice, as well as the Knicks and Pacers once. That’s eight games against teams most people have projected to make the playoffs next year. From December 8-20 the Nuggets will face the Heat, Spurs, Clippers, Pacers and Rockets (twice) all in a row. Luckily only one of these (Houston) will be on the road. The Nuggets’ final 10 games will all come against Western Conference opponents. Four of their last six will be against the Clippers (twice), Warriors and Mavericks. All of these teams will likely be fighting for playoff position, therefore these could be pivotal in deciding the Nuggets’ postseason fate. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m biased, but when looking at the Nuggets’ schedule, I have to say, I don’t see too many teams I’d categorize as definitively better than the Nuggets — those teams being Chicago, Cleveland, Golden State, Houston, Los Angles (Clippers), Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Portland. And even in naming those, I’m not so sure the Nuggets couldn’t nab a higher playoff seed than Portland, Golden State or Houston if everything goes right for Denver this year. Even if you’re a hardened pessimist, I don’t see how you can look at the Nuggets’ roster, compare it to last year’s, compare it to every other team in the NBA, and say the Nuggets aren’t unequivocally better than at least half the teams in the league. The West will be a cat fight as usual, but I think the Nuggets have enough talent and depth to beat up on most of the teams in the NBA and steal quite a few from the heavyweights to mount a solid run at making the playoffs. Of course, this largely depends on the Nuggets’ overall team health and savvy of Brian Shaw, two things that remain fairly obscure at this point in time. Follow me on Twitter
Nuggets News: Stuff you probably know already http://ift.tt/URDrz4 http://ift.tt/eA8V8J As you can see, we’re really making no effort to write anything at the moment and I’ve very happy about that because there’s really nothing worth writing now or for at least another month. But because we care that you care, we’re still inclined to keep you somewhat updated on the slowly trickling Nuggets-related newsbits that emerge every few days or so, like… Jusuf Nurkic. Man. I can’t tell you how excited I am for this kid to suite up in a Nuggets uni. I’m not trying to jeopardize my journalistic credentials (which, there are none) by saying this, but I simply can’t resist: Nurkic is going to surprise all of you (even the believers!) and possibly contend for the Nuggets’ starting center spot by season’s end. I’m already looking forward to berating — or even possibly verbally abusing (OK, maybe not quite that much) — those who lambasted the Nurkic pick on Twitter… endlessly and relentlessly. I will show no mercy, because I sort of hold petulant grudges like that. Anyways, Nurkic’s deal, according to Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com, might be unique in that it’s the first non-120 percent rookie scale contract given to a player drafted 16 or higher. I don’t know exactly what this means (the implications, rather) but he’s a millionaire now and I think he’s probably fine with that. In other news, in an article in which he ranks Denver as the fourth most improved team in the league this summer, David Aldridge of NBA.com also reports Danilo Gallinari is slated to be ready for training camp in the fall. This might be old news but I haven’t heard it before and it’s exciting and therefore worth repeating. And that’s about it. As always, stay (remotely) tuned for more news which should appear every four days or so, maybe longer, maybe not. Thanks.
Ink dry on Nurkic, Harris, Green contracts, Nuggets roster set at 15 http://ift.tt/1rXGuUB http://ift.tt/eA8V8J What was already anticipated has now become official, as the Nuggets announced over the past two days that they have signed first round draft picks Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris, as well as last year’s second rounder Erick Green. The signings bring the roster up to the maximum of 15 players, and unless Tim Connelly and the front office unearth a trade deal they can’t refuse, they will go into the 2014-15 season with the current crew. According to Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post, Nurkic’s contract is “a four-year contract worth $7 million,” while Harris “signed a four-year contract worth $6.1 million.” Both contracts have team options in the third and fourth years. Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com reports that Green was signed to a three-year minimum salary contract which is only partially guaranteed. Deeks lists his contract as paying $507,336 in 2014-15, $845,059 in 2015-16, and $980,431 in 2016-17, but also notes: First year $50,000 guaranteed with no guarantee date. Second year fully unguaranteed, becoming $100,000 guaranteed if not vaived [by] 1st August 2015. Third year fully unguaranteed, becoming $150,000 guaranteed if not waived [by] 1st August 2016. In addition to Green, the only other player whose 2014-15 contract is not fully guaranteed is Quincy Miller, who is fully unguaranteed. However, the Nuggets appear to be excited about the potential of both players, and it seems highly unlikely at this point that they would waive either of them. And if that’s the case, then trades will be the team’s only means to changing the roster going forward. More likely than not, the team as currently constructed will be the one that takes the court when the season starts in October. As always, thanks for reading, and keep it dialed in here at Roundball Mining Company for all your latest Nuggets news and analysis. You can follow me on Twitter here: @denbutsu
Reports: Nurkic, Green signings to top off Nuggets roster at 15 players http://ift.tt/UpFeLl http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Barring any further trades which would open up additional roster spots, the Denver Nuggets may well be finished with free agency this offseason. Today it was reported by Mark Deeks of ShameSports.com that Denver has signed first round draft pick Jusuf Nurkic following the successful completion of a buyout with his Croatian team earlier this month. Additionally, Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post also reported that the Nuggets will soon sign last year’s second round pick Erick Green, who played in Italy last season and showed significant improvement in his Summer League play. When completed, the signings will top off the Nuggets roster at the maximum 15 players. Of those, only Quincy Miller has a non-guaranteed contract, but it seems highly unlikely that Denver will waive him, given the organization’s professed confidence in his development and Brian Shaw’s consistently high praise for the young swingman. If the Nuggets do indeed keep Miller on board, then the roster is set and they are effectively done with free agency this summer unless a two-for-one or three-for-two trade opens up a roster spot. But Nuggets fans hungry for more offseason movement need not give up hope just yet; further trades remain quite plausible. As Kalen cited in his latest RMC post, Yahoo.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that the Nuggets remain in hot pursuit of a Kevin Love trade, “offering a package that sources said has been the most appealing to Minnesota outside of the Cavaliers and a possible Golden State deal including Klay Thompson.” Denver is clearly on the prowl for a superstar player who can immediately take the team to the next level. And it’s a safe bet that Tim Connelly is busy working the phones with a multitude of teams in attempts to pry away top talent to add to the Nuggets roster. So the front office may not end up standing pat, and we may still see some more offseason excitement. For the time being, however, the roster as currently constructed is who the Nuggets are. And time alone will tell, but who knows? Perhaps it’s not such a bad place for them to be. As things stand now, Denver has a fairly healthy balance of experienced veterans who can keep the team competitive if they can remain healthy, and a replenished stock of young players to develop for the future. Many Nuggets fans (myself included) have long been hoping for Denver to more actively build through the draft. And while playing time will be an issue, it’s great to see three rookies on deck who could potentially develop into integral components of the team’s future. As always, keep it dialed in here at Roundball Mining Company for all your latest Denver Nuggets news and analysis. You can follow me on Twitter here: @denbutsu
Report: Nuggets still hot for Love http://ift.tt/1kU1XGm http://ift.tt/eA8V8J According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!Sports.com, the Denver Nuggets are still relevant in Kevin Love trade talks and are offering an inciting package in exchange for the disgruntled superstar. Per Woj: The Denver Nuggets have remained a strong contender for Love, offering a package that sources said has been the most appealing to Minnesota outside of the Cavaliers and a possible Golden State deal including Klay Thompson. So far, the Warriors have kept Thompson out of their offer to Minnesota. Wojnarowski maintains the Cavaliers are still the Wolves preferred trading partner as long as Andrew Wiggins is included, but it appears the Nuggets could be a close second as long as Golden State continues to refuse parting with Klay Thompson. All indications points towards the Cavs inching closer to completing a deal for Love. If Wiggins is available, Denver simply can’t compete with that type of an asset, especially considering the Nuggets have only two players signed beyond the 2015-16 season. Still, this is a situation worth monitoring, so stay tuned to RMC for updates throughout the summer.
Vesely signs overseas, Brooks with the Bulls, also don’t expect a lot of us now http://ift.tt/1n5n7Gi http://ift.tt/eA8V8J As you probably are aware by now, Aaron Brooks and Jan Vesely will not return to the Nuggets next season. Vesely has signed a three year deal with Fenerbache in Istanbul while Brooks is reportedly near completing a deal with the Chicago Bulls. These developments come as no surprise. The Nuggets are already stacked at the point guard and power forward spots. While I personally would have preferred the Nuggets make an attempt at keeping Brooks — given his penchant for playing defense — neither of these moves will have a lasting effect on how the Nuggets’ fare next year. But given these players spent time — although brief — in a Nuggets uniform, I figured it was only right to make note of their departure. In periods of future reflection we will always maybe remember Jan Vesely’s extreme maladroitness and occasional deft post-up move, dunk or defensive play that redefined the paradigms of how simultaneously good and bad someone could be at the same time. Brooks, meanwhile, provided an excellent makeshift starting point guard in Lawson’s absence. I think I speak for all when I say: May these players do things elsewhere with basketballs. On a nonrelated subject, I’d just like to formerly announce Roundball Mining Compnay will be taking it easy for a while. Our writers have spent a lot of time this past year writing about the Nuggets pro bono and now that nothing’s happening we think it’s a pretty good time for a break. We’ll obviously keep you updated on any free-agent signings, trades or general news we feel is relevant, but the 2,000-plus word analysis is likely over for a while. In other words, enjoy your summer — you can bet your ass we are — and let’s do this thing again a few months down the road. As always, thanks for reading.
Summer League recap: Utah Jazz 87, Denver Nuggets 69 http://ift.tt/1qdUzxd http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Post your instant reaction to the game here while the recap is being prepared. Thanks.
Summer League recap: Denver Nuggets 76 Chicago Bulls 103 http://ift.tt/1sRsclJ http://ift.tt/eA8V8J The Nuggets found themselves on the other end of a beatdown in their second summer league game, losing by a score of 103-76 to the Chicago Bulls. Former Nugget (for about 10 minutes) Doug McDermott torched Denver for 31 points on 12 shots. Quincy Miller had another big scoring night for the Nuggets, finishing up with 24 points in the loss. In lieu of the traditional recap or a super-serious analytic take of summer league, here’s a look at the three summer Nuggets we’ll be following closely all tournament, plus a few observations on the rest of the squad. Quincy Miller Quincy is a talented player, blessed with a versatile skill set inside an athletic 6-10 frame. He scores inside and out, attacking in spots which often get him a favorable one-on-one matchup or a wide open scoring opportunity off a teammate. A lot of times that can elevate a player’s confidence while masking their real weaknesses in a summer league setting. Quincy’s effort getting through picks, along with his overall awareness and energy on defense borders on Andre Miller. He will make a great play on one end and half-heartedly jog back on defense, head turned the completely other direction while his man strolls to the rim for a wide open dunk. You expect it out of a worn-down veteran or a green rookie recruit, but Quincy is neither. At this point seeing that out of him is disappointing. I hate to be ragging on Quincy and his 24 points this much, but it’s hard to feel good about what I saw when I look at this game in a vacuum. Quincy got tired towards the end, but there were a few times he ran into the initial screen and just stopped playing. He’s also having a really hard time rebounding the ball after going for every steal and ending up somewhere around the half-court line by the time a shot goes up. Summer league. Gary Harris Harris struggled quite a bit today, there’s no getting around it. He showed an ability to get his shot off in multiple ways during a brilliant performance against Toronto, and was reduced solely to off-the-dribble jumpers against Chicago. It was a rough night. When he did move well without the ball to find a wide open shot, they weren’t going in. Denver’s ball movement was so bad in the second half he had to create purely for himself, and was only able to find success when he got to the rim and was fouled. Outside shooting will come and go during summer league, and it is not uncommon for young players to get unsettled and start pressing after a big game. This happened a lot with Evan Fournier and Quincy Miller in previous summers, and it was not a surprise to see out of Harris especially during a game in which the Nuggets played from behind the whole way. Erick Green Green has been the Nuggets’ steadiest player through the first two games, rarely getting out of control whether he’s facing a big lead or a deficit. What is pretty shocking to me is the fact he is spending about half his time off the ball while others handle the point guard duty. He has been pretty good finding his own shot but I had imagined the Nuggets wanting to see how well he could direct an offense. When Green has brought the ball up and played point he’s done a decent job getting the Nuggets into a set. As a scorer, Green looks fluid and much more polished than he was a season ago. Those off balance, one-handed floaters in the lane have turned into a more confident two-dribble pull-up. I still have a lot of concerns about Green’s ability to get in the lane and finish against NBA competition. He missed a couple of layups today which were the only blemishes on an otherwise solid performance. We’ll see how well Green does as he transitions to this half-and-half combo guard role. My guess is the Nuggets will be leaning on his point guard abilities a bit more as Denver was absolutely horrible getting into their offense against Chicago. Other notes The Nuggets are playing pretty small and guys like Carlon Brown are feeling the brunt of having to go up against bigger, stronger competition. Brown is a strong, speedy scorer but he has had trouble trying to bully his way to points against bigger guys. Tim Ohlbrecht saw his first few minutes of action against Chicago, and the big German is a true center who should give the Nuggets some more flexibility with their lineups throughout the rest of summer league. Will Thomas and David Lighty also saw their first action of the summer, but neither did much to impress in the blowout loss to Chicago. Expect Nuggets coaches to continue to shuffle the lineups as summer league continues.
Summer League recap: Denver Nuggets 104, Toronto Raptors 83 http://ift.tt/1qUdQSl http://ift.tt/eA8V8J I’ll have some analysis up soon, but leave your instant reaction here in the meantime…
Link: Nuggets’ Summer League schedule and roster http://ift.tt/1oPsAQP http://ift.tt/eA8V8J As has been the case for the last decade, the Denver Nuggets will participate at this year’s Las Vegas Summer League. You can find further details, including the roster and schedule, at the Nuggets’ NBA.com homepage. It’s worth noting Jusuf Nurkic will not be with the team in Vegas; Gary Harris, Erick Green and Quincy Miller will be, however. Assuming the Nuggets retain Miller, that puts Denver at 14 roster spots heading into next season (including Harris and Nurkic), meaning this will likely be Green’s audition to strike a deal with the team that drafted him. RMC may or may not cover all the Nuggets’ Summer League games, but we’ll undoubtedly grade the above three players’ performances when all games have concluded.
Nuggets sign Harris, buy out Nurkic, and reportedly close in on signing Mike Miller http://ift.tt/1q1SeFL http://ift.tt/eA8V8J In the wake of the excitement and bustle of draft day, the Nuggets offseason quieted to a calm, standing in stark contrast to the frenetic rumor mill whirling around the league’s superstars. But Denver finally got its first flurry of activity over the last day, as they finalized a contract with first round draft pick Gary Harris, cleared the way to doing the same with Jusuf Nurkic by buying out the contract of his Croatian team, and, if “sources” are to be believed, closed in on a deal to sign veteran small forward Mike Miller. Here are the latest Nuggets offseason updates: Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post reported yesterday on Twitter that the Nuggets had signed Gary Harris in time for him to make their Summer League roster. Harris’ signing was never in question, but he now officially is Denver’s third string shooting guard behind Arron Afflalo and Randy Foye. And although he may struggle to crack the regular season rotation, his participation in the Summer League will give Nuggets fans a great opportunity to see him in his first pro appearances. Jusuf Nurkic’s Croatian team KK Cedevita posted an announcement (Google Translate version) on their website that the Nuggets’ new 19-year-old big man will indeed be Nuggets-bound this season. Rumors of complications in Denver buying out Nurkic’s contract had created some confusion as to whether the Nuggets could procure him for 2014-15, but in the end Chris Dempsey’s report that the buyout wouldn’t be a problem proved to be correct. David Pick of Eurobasket.com confirmed the buyout on Twitter, adding that the cost would be split over two seasons. And while it appears that it’s now too late for Nurkic to join Denver’s Summer League team, the Nuggets will be happy to begin working on his development immediately, which was their intention from the start. Chris Broussard rumor reports often go down best with large grains of salt, but he seemed highly confident in tweeting, “[Mike] Miller is getting close to agreeing to terms with Denver, source says.” Prior to that, Adrian Wojnarowski had tweeted that the competition among the Grizzlies, Thunder, Cavs, and Nuggets for Miller was driving his price tag up to the $4-4.5 million range. If both these reports proved accurate and converged on the Nuggets signing Miller for $4.5 million per year, you can count me squarely amongst those who think such a move would be a really, really bad idea. And for a more in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of Denver bringing Miller on board, check out Charlie’s breakdown here. After signing Nurkic, and if the Nuggets end up guaranteeing Quincy Miller’s contract, Denver will be a little more than $4.3 million under the luxury tax threshold before signing Miller. Presumably, part of their negotiations with Miller include landing on a price that does not push them over the luxury limit. But using their last open roster spot to max out their payroll by giving a Hickson 2.0 “Win now!” contract to a 14-year, oft-injured veteran who clearly doesn’t figure into their future seems exceedingly self-defeating when considering the long term. I for one would much rather see that final roster spot go to trying to develop Erick Green on a non-guaranteed contract, or to an experienced player for no more than the veteran’s minimum salary. Regardless, it appears that we are rapidly approaching the tipping point of free agency, when the the big names decide, the flood gates break open, and the mad rush of signings begins. We should have our answer to the Mike Miller question soon. As always, keep it dialed in right here at Roundball Mining Company for all the latest updates and analysis. You can follow me on Twitter here: @denbutsu
Report: Mike Miller visiting Nuggets http://ift.tt/1jeVnPA http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Veteran free agent Mike Miller will be visiting the Denver Nuggets on Sunday and Monday, according to ESPN Radio 92.9FM in Memphis. Denver was rumored to have interest in the 34 year-old shooter, but a two-day recruiting pitch seems to confirm that the Nuggets are closing in on a serious bid to sign Miller, possibly to a multi-year contract. The news is surprising for a number of reasons. First, Denver already has 14 out of the maximum 15 roster spots earmarked for new and returning players. Second, wing depth didn’t appear to be an area of need for the current roster. This led many to speculate Denver would be relatively quiet in free agency, perhaps using the final roster spot on a third point guard and moving forward with the roster as-is. Miller seems like an odd fit on the surface, but digging a bit deeper reveals how the sharpshooter might fit on a Nuggets team that wants to make some noise the Western Conference right away. With some minor tweaks to the roster, Denver could free up the flexibility and positional logjam to make Miller a contributing piece. Here’s a cursory look at the main arguments for and against adding Miller to this current Nuggets squad. Why Miller fits The Nuggets are currently well-stocked on the wings with Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler forming a capable collection of swingmen who do a bit of everything. Afflalo figures to see most of his action as a big shooting guard, which really only leaves Quincy Miller as the primary depth behind Gallo and Chandler, two players who have not been reliably healthy throughout their Nuggets careers. Quincy Miller is still young, but he has yet to develop into anything other than a raw, scoring wing who is not particularly good at any one thing. With Miller set to become a restricted free agent next season, the Nuggets have to decide if they want to continue developing a player who does not look ready for a contributing role. That is where Quincy’s unguaranteed salary comes into play. If waived before opening night, the Nuggets can create a roster spot and some $900k room under the cap to bring in a solid veteran like Mike Miller. Even if the Nuggets want to keep Quincy as a fourth wing, bringing on Mike could make some sense. Wilson Chandler has only a partial guarantee in 2015-2016, the final year of his deal. If Gallo can return to any semblance of his old self, Chandler will be a luxury Denver probably can’t afford beyond this season. Because of his trade value both as a player and a cap-friendly contract, Chandler remains unlikely to be a part of Denver’s long term plan. Signing Mike Miller could be a preemptive move in acquiring a cheaper replacement for someone likely to be traded or cut eventually. Despite chronic back issues and a injury-riddled career, Mike Miller quietly had a bounce-back year last season, appearing in all 82 games while generally doing what he does. ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus paints a good picture of who Miller is at this point in his career. He ranked ninth among all small forwards in offensive RPM, a product of being one of the elite floor spacers in the game. Last season, over half his shots were threes and 97.2% of those makes were assisted. Defensively he’s a complete liability, ranking 76th out of 78 in defensive RPM at his position. Overall, Miller was a net positive on a Memphis team which had a top-10 defense. Miller is deadly spotting up from anywhere, but he makes a ton of threes above-the-break where Afflalo and Foye don’t shoot very well. He is probably best suited to smaller lineups in which he can be stuck on a big and not have to guard any decent scorers. He’s an above-average rebounder for his size and pairing him with Afflalo and Foye provides a ton of spacing around Ty Lawson, one of the best penetrators in the game. Offensively, he could be a very good fit with the right Nuggets lineups. Why Miller doesn’t fit Simply put, if Miller doesn’t become a bonafide difference maker and one of the best sixth men in the game, this signing just isn’t worth it. Miller makes little to no sense on a team that is not a legit conference finals contender right away. It remains a huge question whether or not Denver can be a team that is just a few minor pieces away. The Nuggets are a deep squad relying on the health of decent players like Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee to vault them into contention. Defensively is by far where the Nuggets are most deficient, and Mike Miller does nothing to address those concerns. Adding Miller is also likely to squeeze out the youth movement and hinder the development of players like Gary Harris and Quincy Miller. If the Nuggets end up just squeaking into the playoffs or being one-and-done yet again, both the Nuggets and Mike Miller will have needlessly wasted a year. Roster space and salary cap concerns I mentioned earlier that the Nuggets have only one roster spot available, assuming Quincy Miller isn’t waived and Jusuf Nurkic comes to Denver right away. Rumors have been circulating about Nurkic staying overseas another year, but Chris Dempsey confirmed what Tim Connelly has said all along — that Nurkic’s buyout is in place and he’ll join the Nuggets this upcoming season. Quincy is no guarantee to be kept, but doing so would leave the Nuggets with a glut of forwards and only two real point guards — Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson. Foye would slide into the third PG role and there would be increased pressure on Gallo and Afflalo to be primary creators if Ty or Nate were to miss any games. The Nuggets will be competing with teams like the Thunder and Grizzlies to sign Mike Miller. He is a likely candidate for the veteran’s minimum or bi-annual exception with those teams. The Nuggets have the full mid-level exception and about $4 million of room under the tax line to bid with, which is enough for a competitive offer. Look for Miller to get a two or three year deal with an annual salary somewhere around $2-4 million. If no further moves are made, Miller’s future salary would put a dent in the Nuggets flexibility next year, when Kenneth Faried would be due an extension. However, Mozgov has a team option that season and Wilson Chandler has only a partial guarantee, giving the Nuggets options to maneuver further under the cap.
Rumor: Chandler and McGee may be on the block http://ift.tt/1qyuQyW http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Rumors surfaced in mid-June that the Nuggets might be in the hunt for Kevin Love. Several names were floated as possible inclusions in a trade proposal, including Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, and (even though he was still with the Magic) Aaron Afflalo. Although not in the context of a Love trade, Chandler’s name has now been dropped once again as a player the Nuggets may be attempting to deal, and this time rather than the Manimal or AAA, he’s joined on the hypothetical trade block by JaVale McGee. As tweeted by Alex Kennedy of BasketballInsiders.com: The Denver Nuggets have considered trading JaVale McGee and/or Wilson Chandler, according to league sources. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, especially on the heels of the Afflalo trade. The Nuggets are getting close to flirting with the luxury tax, so shedding at least one contract to offset the addition of Afflalo’s salary and allow themselves a little more flexibility makes sense financially. Of course, everything depends on the players and salary the Nuggets would be receiving in return, and who they acquire in free agency. To trade Chandler without bringing in another small forward to back up Danilo Gallinari would be to place a great deal of trust (and possibly a prematurely heavy burden) on Quincy Miller. With J.J. HIckson being able (in a manner of speaking) to slide over to the center position, there is less pressure in this regard on recent first round draft pick Jusuf Nurkic should McGee be traded without the Nuggets getting a viable center back in return. Even so, Hickson at the five is not Denver’s most desirable scenario. At any rate, it certainly appears that Tim Connelly’s “aggressive” offseason approach includes an open-mindedness to making significant trades, and if that proves to be the case, then Nuggets fans should be in for a very interesting offseason. As always, keep it dialed in right here at Roundball Mining Company for all the latest news, rumors and analysis.
Free agency begins: Assessing the Nuggets’ salary and a potential Faried extension http://ift.tt/1lw1nxK http://ift.tt/V7Xlq0 It’s time to take stock of the state of Denver’s salary structure, as the NBA free agency period has officially begun, and with it the annual ritual of Nuggets fans speculating which players – if any – the team will target this summer. With just one roster spot currently open, it seems unlikely that Denver will be overly active in free agency unless they make a trade or two to trim down the payroll and free up roster space. And while GM Tim Connelly will have the full $5.3 million mid-level exception at his disposal, using it would likely propel Denver over the luxury tax threshold, territory where the Kroenkes have generally been loathe to tread. This is especially a concern considering that a Kenneth Faried extension may be in the works. Zach Lowe of Grantland.com recently tweeted: Just off phone with DEN GM Tim Connelly. Nuggets are meeting with Kenneth Faried’s agent next week, hope to sign him to an extension. It’s unknown as of yet exactly how much Faried’s agent will be asking for, but what’s exceedingly clear is that after the Afflalo trade, Denver has precious little wiggle room to work with. But before looking at the big picture, let’s take a more detailed look at how Denver came out financially in their two recent trades. (All salary figures in this post from ShamSports.com and BasketballInsiders.com) As you can see, the Nuggets added just over $6 million to their 2014-15 payroll in trading Fournier for Afflalo. Balancing the salaries in the trade was made possible by using the traded player exception from last year’s Andre Iguodala sign-and-trade. If Denver doesn’t use the MLE to sign a free agent of note this summer, the Afflalo acquisition could in a way be seen as their primary “free agent signing.” Either way, as we will see below, the financial impact of the trade is to push the Nuggets even further over the salary cap, and uncomfortably close to the luxury tax line. The inclusion of Anthony Randolph in Denver’s draft day trade with the Bulls was a real coup for Tim Connelly. Not only did he move free up the aforementioned roster spot, it enabled Denver to essentially come out even on guaranteed salary overall, and save just under $1 million in 2014-15, thus slightly offsetting the salary increase from the Afflalo trade. Additionally, trading down to draft picks 16 and 19 from 11 allows the Nuggets to sign their two first round selections to smaller rookie scale contracts than the $1.9 million owed to the 11th pick. In the spectrum of NBA salaries, it may not seem like a huge difference, but given how little room Denver has to maneuver as they venture over the salary cap and near the luxury tax, the importance of even minor savings is magnified. (Salary cap and luxury tax projections from Larry Coon’s (@LarryCoon) NBA Salary Cap FAQ blog) After their opening offseason moves, the Nuggets are now over $9 million over the projected salary cap and about $4.5 million under the projected luxury threshold. (We won’t have to say “projected” much longer. The NBA performs an audit during the trade moratorium from July 1 to 9 which is used to calculate the salary cap and luxury tax, so we’ll have the actual figures soon.) In April I wrote a post speculating that the Nuggets’ lack of financial flexibility might constrain Connelly’s ability to make many big moves this offseason. Through the adroit use of the TPE and the shrewd draft day trade, Denver’s GM has already managed to utilize two different ways to skirt those constraints. But a Faried extension will likely be a game changer which either freezes the Nuggets front office into inaction or compels them to make at least one trade, if not more. Looking at some of last year’s big man signings, Al Jefferson signed on with the (then) Bobcats for $13.5 million a year, David West landed $12 by extending with the Pacers, Tiago Splitter got $10 million from the Spurs, and the Hawks signed Paul Millsap for $9.5 million. Based on these asking prices, it’s reasonable to assume that the Faried camp will be pushing for a salary in the $12 million range, but will end up with something closer to $10-11 million. Let us assume for now (being charitable to the Nuggets) that Faried agrees to extend for $10 million a year. In that case, Denver’s total 2014-15 salary would increase to just over $80 million. That would put the Nuggets around $17 million over the salary cap, and over $3 million over the luxury tax threshold. As most Nuggets fans know, the Kroenke family (loaded as they are) prefers to steer clear of the luxury tax. That being the case, what are the potential outcomes of a Faried extension? Here are a few: Being that team salary is accounted for at the end of the season, Connelly and his front office might extend Faried with the intention of trading and clearing the salary of another player (likely Chandler or Hickson) either this summer or by the Feb. 2015 trade deadline to get back under the tax limit. Faried, Chandler and Afflalo were all named in the Kevin Love trade rumors, and although it appears highly unlikely that Love would extend with Denver after becoming a free agent in 2015, chances are that the Nuggets and Wolves are still discussing their options. Denver could do the unexpected and bite the bullet on the luxury tax, standing pat and giving a healthier version of the current roster the opportunity to show what it can accomplish. I tend to believe that the first scenario is the most likely. Connelly has made it quite apparent that no Nuggets asset is untradeable, he clearly highly values Denver’s players, and he likely has confidence in himself and his front office crew to dig themselves out of luxury territory should a Faried extension land them there. Irrespective of what unfolds for the Nuggets this offseason, or how it all happens, it should be very interesting to keep an eye on their salary constraints and how they play into the moves Connelly attempts to make. You can follow me here on Twitter: @denbutsu
5-on-5: Draft day analysis http://ift.tt/1qFF7GZ http://ift.tt/eA8V8J After two days of postdraft analysis from every writer in the basketball blogosphere, it’s time RMC takes the pulse of its own contributors (and one fan) to determine just how high Tim Connelly and co. got our heart rates going on June 26. In our latest 5-on-5 we hand out draft grades, trade grades and a few kind words to Nuggets’ management all while assessing where Denver goes from here. Joining us again is loyal reader Frederick Barteldes. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts on the following questions in the comments section below. 1. What letter grade would you give the Nuggets’ draft and why? Tom: A. Gary Harris has the mentality and the physical tools to become a Tony Allen-like defender with a better shot. I would have been happy with him as the 11th pick. Getting an extra asset in Jusuf Nurkic while clearing Anthony Randolph from the books was a savvy move. Both Nurkic and fellow Adriatic League big man Nikola Jokic are raw and inexperienced but have shown good development over the last two years. Charlie: A. The Nuggets turned the 11th pick into two lottery-caliber talents and a future second rounder, in addition to shedding the wholly unnecessary Anthony Randolph. From a value standpoint, that’s a win. Tim Connelly could have made the safe play with McDermott, whom I liked, but instead took the long view with three developmental picks. Nurkic, Harris and Jokic are three of the youngest players in the draft with a great mix of physical tools and upside. Joel: A. The Chicago deal was a masterstroke. By trading down, Denver got a two-for-one without losing out on Harris, their primary draft target at 11. Both he and Nurkic were steals, falling lower than most mocks projected, and Connelly prognosticated that development very well. Moreover, packaging Randolph not only opened up a roster spot and got his dead weight off the team, but also helped the Nuggets cut nearly $1 million in guaranteed salary in 2014-15. Frederick: The excitement might still be carrying over but I give it a solid A, not only because I had a blast but because they did everything they set out to do. I thought their biggest weaknesses were perimeter scoring and perimeter defense, and they acquired both in spades. I would have been perfectly content to snag Harris at 11, but trading down to get him at 19 means Nurkic was somehow free, a bonus that was awarded to the Nuggets for their foresight. After listening to the interviews with these guys (Harris in particular, since Nurkic’s English is a little shaky), I’m convinced they’re serious competitors and high-character guys, which I put a premium on considering the Spurs’ model (also because I’m getting old). The last offseason felt bad and turned out bad; this one feels good. Kalen: Considering the Nuggets drafted the best remaining players on my Big Board in both the first and second rounds, I can’t give them anything but an A-plus. I studied all year long and wrote upwards of 10,000 words on this draft. I’m not saying my opinion is more valuable than anyone else’s, but I feel fairly qualified in assessing the talent Denver acquired on draft night. McDermott may end up being a stellar shooter in the NBA, but he was considered a second-round pick for three years leading up to 2014 and still has major question marks about his athleticism and defense. Meanwhile the Nuggets got not one, but two of most every expert’s favorite late-lottery talents in this draft and shipped out Anthony Randolph in the process. How is this anything but spectacular? 2. If you could change one thing about the Nuggets’ draft what would it be? Tom: In keeping with this year’s theme of drafting 19 year olds, I would have used the 16th pick on Tyler Ennis. He and Harris could have made a potent backcourt duo. Charlie: It sure would have been nice to unload the contract of Anthony Rand… oh, that happened too, didn’t it? Forgive me for drawing a blank here, but short of just having a better pick, I like what the Nuggets did with the assets they had. Joel: Honestly, given the assets the Nuggets had to work with, I’m not sure it could realistically have gone much better. That said, draft night is a golden opportunity to swing trades, and I have it on good authority that every time the Nuggets pass up the chance to trade Hickson, a puppy dies. Frederick: I’m not sure I would. I’m concerned about the next phase of the offseason, really. This feels a bit like the Nuggets of the season before last — save George Karl — which comes with familiar philosophical questions about what an NBA team needs to be. I believe the Nuggets are a very good team with the current roster; they had some clear weaknesses last season and I think they patched them up beautifully. But it’s easy to look at them from a different angle and see a glut of good-not-great players at every position and the team feels suddenly flat, and you wonder if it really is possible to win without a “star player.” I hope the front office doesn’t act on that, and that the current roster gets a chance to play for a while. Kalen: I’d change the way people responded to the Nuggets’ two overseas selections. Quite frankly, I was disgusted with some of the things I was reading on Twitter and in the comments section of this blog. It verged on xenophobic, with no justification whatsoever for the entirely undeserved, flat-out ignorant criticism of Nurkic and Jokic. As a blog owner with writers from around the world, I take great exception to this type of commentary and hope fans learn from this draft to avoid future embarrassment. 3. What letter grade would you give the Arron Afflalo trade and why? Tom: A. The Nuggets’ most glaring hole coming into the season was the lack of a starting shooting guard. Randy Foye is a fine backup, Evan Fournier was inconsistent and Gary Harris (or any other shooting guard drafted in the mid-first round this season) will need time to adjust to being in the NBA. The Nuggets filled that hole with a solid veteran on a nice contract, and got him for a very good price. That also allowed the Nuggets to trade picks with Chicago, rather than feeling like they had to take Harris at 11. Charlie: B+. Fournier didn’t seem to be on a steady track towards improvement with Brian Shaw, so moving him for a known quantity in Afflalo is a big upgrade in the short term. Afflalo’s size and efficient scoring are a welcome addition, but he’s never started for an above-average defensive team. As a supposed perimeter defender in Orlando and Denver, the best defense he’s been a part of were the 16th-ranked Nuggets in 2010-2011. That’s a worrying trend when you consider what the Nuggets are asking him to do next season. Joel: B. The Nuggets get better in the short term with an unquestionably legit starter at the two. Fournier had a disappointing season, making his ceiling appear lower, and flipping him for Afflalo is great value. The biggest downside is financial. After this trade and the draft, Denver’s about $9 million over the salary cap and just $4.5 million under the luxury line. Extending Faried and staying out of the luxury tax is now impossible without further trades. Frederick: A+. I love Fournier and still think he could be a great player, but Afflalo is my guy. He is a workhorse, a level-headed competitor, the kind of veteran that I’m proud to have on this team. Honestly, even with Harris on the roster, I hope Denver can retain ‘Flalo after the following season. I’m obviously a huge fan of this dude (I’m thrilled that my navy-and-gold Afflalo jersey is no longer just a throwback), so maybe that weakens my point, but I think it’s worth repeating that this trade powerfully addresses the team’s biggest needs (perimeter scoring and perimeter defense), while adding a guy that could very easily be considered a star on a team that’s getting enough attention. (He’s an assassin, after all.) Kalen: A. Remember, the Nuggets acquired the trade exception used in this deal through the Iguodala move last year. So kudos to Tim Connelly for actually utilizing the full extent of his assets, unlike the previous regime. Afflalo is one of the top-10 3-point percentage shooters in the entire NBA and can be an elite defender when not carrying a heavy scoring load. The original Iguodala trade was always way more dysfunctional than people realized. It’s fantastic to get such a high-character guy like Afflalo back in a Nuggets uniform. 4. How has the 24 hours surrounding the draft changed the way you view Tim Connelly? Tom: Tim Connelly’s earliest moves with the Nuggets were of mixed quality, and his philosophy was unclear. His draft day moves were uniformly excellent. Each move made sense individually, and the moves made sense as a whole. I also had the opportunity to chat with him briefly about the salary cap and came away impressed. Charlie: Connelly has proven to be shrewd and patient in the draft, twice opting to stretch his picks into multiple assets by trading back. I find the long-term, process-oriented additions of Harris and Nurkic a welcome departure from last year’s focus on low-risk, low-reward veterans. Only time will tell if the assets Connelly has acquired can provide the means for the Nuggets to become a contender. Joel: Favorably. My mantra last season was “give him the benefit of the doubt until after next offseason,” and his opening moves help alleviate that doubt. The draft and Afflalo trade were both successes. More importantly, the latter was only made possible by the Iguodala sign-and-trade traded player exception (TPE). Connelly deserves credit for not letting Iggy walk for nothing, and using the TPE well when the chance came. Hopefully he won’t stop with the draft, and will impress us with further moves this offseason. Frederick: Last time, I said I didn’t know enough about him to really make a judgment, but I am very happy with what the Nuggets did on draft night. He made a savvy move and got a great return. I’ve heard a lot of people say he’s going to try to swing for the fences, but I no longer hope he will. What the front office did on draft night was subtle and powerful, and it feels like the ship that rocked so violently last season has been righted again. Kalen: I’ve turned 180 degrees on Tim Connelly. For the past year I’ve repeatedly said we must be patient and wait until he has a full draft and free agency period to prepare for before judging him, yet even I was growing skeptical and somewhat cynical. The J.J. Hickson signing is still bad no matter how you slice it, and I wasn’t a fan of the Nuggets moving back in last year’s draft, but outside of those moves Connelly’s quietly shown some very impressive savvy. 5. Given their increased array of assets, should the Nuggets stand pat or continue their pursuit Kevin Love in free agency? Tom: The Nuggets should continue to pursue ways to get better. A likely one-year rental of Kevin Love isn’t the right way to get better. There will be other players for the Nuggets to pursue in trades and free agency. Charlie: The Nuggets are somewhere in between full on win-now mode and developing for the future. They’ve kept all their picks and possess a good mix of assets and reasonably priced talent entering their primes. However futile, the Nuggets must continue to put everything on the table for a star. Joel: This Nuggets regime is intent on building a highly competitive roster which can soon contend, which raises the question of where they fall in the pecking order of the ultra-stacked West. And despite improving with the Afflalo trade and draft, it’s implausible that the current squad could be much more than a low playoff seed. So whether it’s Love or other high-impact players, yes, the Nuggets should aggressively pursue top talent to help take them to the next level. Frederick: Stand pat. Slip out the back, Jack. Love still smells funky to me; I don’t think the Nuggets would retain him for more than a season. I know there aren’t enough minutes to go around, but I want to see the current roster play. Maybe Denver has the pieces to pull off a blockbuster trade, but I want to see who rises to the top. Karl was great about reinforcing how starting roles (and even minutes) must be continually earned; Shaw is poised to send the same message to this team. I want to see who rises to the top and who the clear trade chips are. When you take into account how badly the Nuggets were struck by injuries last season, you’d think they’d want to keep the depth anyway. Kalen: As tempting as it is to want to see what this roster can do, I’m all for going after Love now. This draft solidified Connelly as a shrewd negotiator in my mind, and now that the Wolves have Zach LaVine, I doubt they’d be insistent that Denver include Afflalo — who deserves to remain a Nugget for a long time. If the Nuggets can swing a deal for Love without giving up a Knicks-like ransom, Denver could become a hot spot a for another top-tier free agents given their sensational depth.
Nuggets News: Postdraft Links, Vol. 2 http://ift.tt/UStX6R http://ift.tt/1lyGZ3N Now that the instant Twitter analysis part of the draft process has concluded for most major media outlets, some real narrative content is starting to emerge. Aside from a few late evaluations, included below are news stories and interesting tidbits I’ve discovered over the last 24 hours about the Nuggets’ draft selections that should give you an even better idea of how well things went on Thursday night. If you find similar stories that I’ve left out, please feel free to include them in the comments section with accompanying commentary. Adding to the already extensive list of postdraft praise for the Nuggets, NBA Draft guru Ed Isaacson declares the Nuggets one of his seven “winners” on draft night. Isaacson owns the draft-dedicated website NBADraftBlog.com and is also a draft analyst for NBCSports.com. He studies these guys all year long and in exchange people pay him for his opinion, similar to Chad Ford (who gave the Nuggets a B-plus for their draft) and Jonathan Givony (who had Nurkic ranked as a top 10 player virtually all year). In other words, it’s probably wise to listen to them when they talk… According to Yahoo!Sports.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Gary Harris used to have a self-made banner hanging above his bed that read, “What did you do today that will get you into the NBA?” Harris is the second person I’ve ever heard of who’s hung motivational mementos on their bedroom walls. The other: Steven King. Things seemed to work out pretty well for him… DenverPost.com’s Christopher Dempsey details Jusuf Nurkic’s background and manages to squeeze some intriguing quotes out of Tim Connelly regarding the open competition for playing time next season. The NBA.com Nuggets’ homepage has all kinds of great postdraft content up right now. There’s a Gary Harris conference call, video recap of the draft featuring the always charismatic Scott Hastings and this gem of a press conference where Tim Connelly introduces Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris. This is really the first candid footage we’ve seen of Nurkic in the U.S. and it doesn’t disappoint. Although he can barely speak English, his sense of humor and crazy character are certain manifested — even through all that gum. Grantland.com’s Zach Lowe wrote a detailed breakdown of what the Nuggets did on draft day and where they stand heading into free agency. He claims the Nuggets had one of the more intriguing drafts of any team outside the Sixers and says they’re “a team to watch” moving forward. Lowe also reported early Friday morning that the Nuggets will meet with Kenneth Faried and his representatives to talk about signing an extension to remain in Denver. Follow me on Twitter
Links: Media draft grades http://ift.tt/1qMNDX8 http://ift.tt/eA8V8J More draft grades will continue to emerge over the next 24 hours, and we’ll try to keep you updated as they do, but below is what’s available online thus far… USATodaySports.com gives the Nuggets an A for both Nurkic and Harris. ESPN.com’s stat geek, Kevin Pelton, gives the Nuggets an A-plus for their first-round trade with the Bulls. Pelton also gives the Nuggets a B-plus for the Afflalo trade. CBSSports.com gives the Nuggets a C-minus for Nurkic and a B for Harris. BleacherReport.com gives the Nuggets an A-minus for the Afflalo trade. BleacherReport.com also gives the Nuggets an A-minus for their first-round picks.
March Schedule Projections: How Low Can You Go? http://ift.tt/1Amrhv4 http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Here is a game-by-game breakdown/projection for every Denver Nuggets game in March. Despite my dreadful performance in projecting the February schedule, I’m back at it again in March! The good news for me is that it’ll be a whole lot easier to project wins and losses this month (Spoiler Alert: there’ll be a lot more losses than wins!). Think of this month’s projection as more of a way to gauge our chances of improving our draft lottery odds. March Overview Total Games: 16 Home/Road: 8/8 Over .500/Below .500: 6/10 Back-to-Backs: 5 Three-in-Fours: 5 Four-in-Fives: 1 March is another logistically challenging schedule for the Nuggets and includes significantly more difficult opponents than they faced in February. There is a stretch of four home games in a row in early March with a day off in between each, but three of the four teams in that stretch are championship contenders, so let’s get that top pick! Game-by-Game Projections (all times MST) Game 1: Denver vs. New Orleans, 6:00 pm, Sunday, March 1st The Pelicans are coming off a close home win over Miami and will be on the front end of a back-to-back, with a game in Dallas against the Mavericks the next day, so this is a classic trap game scenario. That said, I think the Nuggets are just to undermanned to come up with a win against New Orleans, regardless of the schedule situation right now. Prediction: Nuggets Lose (0-1) Game 2: Denver vs. Milwaukee, 7:00 pm, Tuesday, March 3rd The Bucks will be in the third game of a four game road trip and take on the Warriors in Oakland the next night, so if there was ever a chance the Nuggets could eke out a win against Milwaukee, this is it. Again, I just don’t see it happening. The Bucks have too much athleticism and defensive ability for the Nuggets to take advantage. Prediction: Nuggets Lose (0-2) Game 3: Denver @ Minnesota, 6:00 pm, Wednesday, March 4th The Nuggets get their first team that they match up with talent-wise, but they’re on the second night of a back-t0-back and catch the T-Wolves in the middle of a four game homestand. I also think Minnesota will still be riding the wave of KG’s return to where it all began for him. Prediction: Nuggets Lose (0-3) Game 4: Denver @ San Antonio, 7:00 pm, Friday, March 6th Denver’s on the road in their third game in four nights. The rested Spurs are in game 2 of a 6 game homestand. Prediction: Nuggets Lose (0-4) Game 5: Denver vs. Houston, 7:00 pm, Saturday, March 7th Houston will have played Detroit at home the night before, and won’t play again until the 11th, so this is a good chance to catch them sleeping. I don’t see it happening. Prediction: Nuggets Lose (0-5) Game 6: Denver vs. New York, 7:00 pm, Monday, March 9th Here it is, the Nuggets best chance for their first win in March! The Knicks kick off a five game road trip in Denver, and are one of the few teams in the league with more incentive to lose than the Nuggets. Despite their best efforts, I expect the Nuggets to come away with a victory in this one. Prediction: Nuggets Win (1-5) Game 7: Denver vs. Atlanta, 7:00 pm, Wednesday, March 11th Next. Prediction: Nuggets Lose (1-6) Game 8: Denver vs. Golden State, 7:00 pm, Friday, March 13th Next. Prediction: Nuggets Lose (1-7) Game 9: Denver @ New Orleans, 4:00 pm, Sunday, March 15th The Pelicans will have played their last game on March 10th, so they’ll likely be a little rusty in the first quarter. That being said… Prediction: Nuggets Lose (1-8) Game 10: Denver @ Memphis, 6:00 pm, Monday, March 16th Second game of a back-to-back on the road. Not getting win #2 in Memphis. Prediction: Nuggets Lose (1-9) Game 11: Denver @ Houston, 6:00 pm, Thursday, March 19th Denver faces the Rockets in the middle of their five game road trip. Houston will be in the middle of a three game homestand. Prediction: Nuggets Lose (1-10) Game 12: Denver @ Miami, 5:30 pm, Friday, March 20th I thought about giving Denver a surprise win here, as I don’t think Miami is THAT good, especially with Bosh out for the year. I just can’t do it on the road and on a back-to-back though. Prediction: Nuggets Lose (1-11) Game 13: Denver @ Orlando, 4:00 pm, Sunday, February 22nd A key match-up in the 2015 tankathon, Denver closes out their road trip in Orlando against they will be locked in a dogfight for ping pong balls through the end of the season. The Magic are at home in this one and have been playing teams close lately, so they will likely, regretfully, take the win. Prediction: Nuggets Lose (1-12) Game 14: Denver vs. Philadelphia, 7:00 pm,Tuesday, March 25th The Nuggets will be hungry for a win and they’ll have a couple days to work themselves up for this one, even if the organization and fans have talked themselves into being okay with losses. Philly plays hard, but this will be the second of a back-to-back and third in four days, all on the road for them. Not to mention, Philly is one of the few teams that has less talent on their roster. The Nuggets finally surpass their win total for February after game 14. Prediction: Nuggets Win (2-12) Game 15: Denver vs. Utah, 7:00 pm, Thursday, March 27th Denver just lost in embarrassing fashion to the Jazz as I’m writing this, so maybe there’s a bit of revenge attached to this prediction, but they go on to face the Thunder at home the night after this one, so I think there’s a good chance the young Jazz roster sleeps through this one. It’s a win streak! (sort of) Prediction: Nuggets Win (3-12) Game 16: Denver @ Portland, 8:00 pm, Saturday, March 28th Fourth game in five nights for Portland. Alas, the streak is over. Prediction: Nuggets Lose (3-13) Final Prediction – 3 Wins, 13 Losses Tank update: This prediction puts the Nuggets at 23-51 on the season, likely locked in a battle with Orlando for the # 5 spot in the draft lottery. A quick glance at the Magic’s schedule shows 9 home games to 5 on the road and only two back-to-backs, so there’s a good chance the Nuggets solidify the #5 spot in March. February Prediction: 6 – 4(oops!) February Actual : 1 – 9
Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 82 Utah Jazz 104 http://ift.tt/1ADvIWZ http://ift.tt/eA8V8J That’s five straight losses and nine straight at home. The Nuggets were blown out of their own building again, this time by the Jazz who won by 22. Recap coming.
RCotW: Adjusting Expectations http://ift.tt/1DhCpeO http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Welcome to the Reader Comment of the Week, a recurring series where we’ll highlight voices from Roundball Mining Company community found in our forum, comments section, in e-mails and through Twitter rants. This week’s comment comes courtesy of ben: I’m hoping the trade deadline was a signal of change, this upcoming draft is a great way to start the imminent rebuild. And now the question is: what can Nuggets fan expect for the rest of the season, or the next two or three seasons? Should they applaud losses and put their faith in draft picks? Should they applaud minutes for young players like King Joffrey and Barton, hoping to see some glimmer of future greatness? Want to get your voice heard? Head on over to the forum, reach out to us via e-mail, and as always, be sure to comment after articles
Dempsey: Injury Updates http://ift.tt/1AcRPi8 http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Jusuf Nurkic (ankle) has been ruled out of tomorrow’s game vs. Utah #Nuggets — Chris Dempsey (@dempseypost) February 26, 2015 Darrell Arthur’s knee strain is revised to a calf strain and he is doubtful for tomorrow’s game vs. Utah. — Chris Dempsey (@dempseypost) February 26, 2015 Kenneth Faried (thumb), who missed Wednesday’s game, is likely to play vs. the Jazz. #Nuggets — Chris Dempsey (@dempseypost) February 26, 2015 The extent of Juka’s injury still isn’t clear, but the fact that the Nuggets were so quick to rule him out for Friday’s game certainly isn’t a good sign.
Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 96 Phoenix Suns 110 http://ift.tt/1DcBrQX http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Despite an entertaining and energetic game through 3 quarters, another poor shooting performance doomed the Nuggets to a 110-96 loss to the Phoenix Suns. However, in a season where losses are wins for the Denver Nuggets, Joffrey Lauvergne impressed, Will Barton showed off some serious skills and athleticism and Jusuf Nurkic came up with the play of the year before being helped off of the court with a right ankle sprain later in the game: netw3rk of Grantland summed it up best: where in the rules does it say that you can’t lay the ball on your defender’s prostrate body like flowers into a casket — netw3rk (@netw3rk) February 26, 2015 Please post your thoughts, concerns and prayers for Juka’s ankle in the comment section below while the Rapid Reaction is being prepared. Next up: Friday, Feb. 27 vs. Utah at 7 p.m. MST. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.
Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 82 Brooklyn Nets 110 http://ift.tt/1win2pk http://ift.tt/1yRz6uU The Denver Nuggets are blown out of the building. Brooklyn Nets 110 FinalRecap | Box Score 82 Denver Nuggets Darrell Arthur, PF 23 MIN | 5-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -16 +/- Arthur is shooting 37% in the month of February. I would have been with fine with starting Arthur earlier in the year to try and bolster the Nuggets defense, but now is a weird time to do it. The seasons over, Arthur’s already shown what he can do and this just didn’t make much sense. Tanking though. Danilo Gallinari, SF 30 MIN | 7-12 FG | 5-5 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 22 PTS | -17 +/- Offensively Gallo looked okay. The defense… I am going to try not to judge a guy who lost two years to injury but Gallo looks better suited to smaller lineups and a more complimentary role. At this point the Nuggets just want to build his confidence and they are doing that. Nice game. Jusuf Nurkic, C 25 MIN | 3-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -4 +/- The Nets did a great job forcing him further out. I expect Nurkic to get his bell rung a few times as a rookie and that certainly happened tonight. Nurkic needs to ready himself physically and mentally to avoid games like this — he has to develop some go-to moves and get a bit lighter on his feet to keep up with the bigger bodies. Ty Lawson, PG 32 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-2 FT | 5 REB | 10 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 6 PTS | -22 +/- A pretty bad game, there were too many times he got backdoored on defense without looking like he cared. He should be a difference maker every game and just isn’t. Tanking though. Gary Harris, SG 26 MIN | 4-12 FG | 1-3 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -12 +/- I am searching for great things to say about Harris but he has not been able to make open shots consistently. Harris will start a game out well but miss a few shots and everything goes to hell. Tanking though. Kenneth Faried, PF 13 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -9 +/- The Manimal came off the bench for a short stint early, then hurt his finger and sat out the rest of the way. We know what the Manimal does and I’m fine with him taking more of a backseat for the remainder of the season. Tanking! J.J. Hickson, PF 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3 +/- Hallelujah! Joffrey Lauvergne, F 20 MIN | 0-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 0 PTS | -24 +/- Lauvergne was impressive in his debut and less so tonight. He likes to get up and down the floor but seemed to be dragging his feet in his first back-to-back. He has not figured out what to do offensively and settled for too many outside shots. He has not really played in several weeks so I understand. Tanking though. Erick Green, PG 15 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -14 +/- Garbage time minutes. The Nuggets have not put really put Green on the ball much since Jameer Nelson arrived. When he’s in with guys like Harris and Foye, Green needs to take charge and make sure the Nuggets run something resembling an offense. Tanking though. Jameer Nelson, PG 11 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -1 +/- I don’t doubt that Nelson can play, but Denver is a terrible spot to spend his last useful years. There’s nothing for him to prove, or do for the rest of the year so it’s kind of pointless to go on. Tanking though? Will Barton, SG 21 MIN | 5-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -5 +/- Barton made some shots but I can’t bring myself to be a huge fan of his game yet. I would have preferred to go on having no opinion but he joined the Nuggets for a stretch run of tanking. I’ll reserve judgment until we see a bit more. Randy Foye, SG 20 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -19 +/- Why do I still have to have an opinion about Randy Foye? Well, no more I say. This is where it ends for me. A man’s got to have a code. Brian Shaw How about not losing every game by 30 before we can act like a real coaching critique applies to this guy. Two Things We Saw The Nuggets are tied with Sacramento for the sixth lottery spot. They are two games behind Orlando for the fifth spot. Let’s tank. Losing is horrible, especially the way the Nuggets have done it for the past month and a half. If it serves a purpose, true fans will be able to live with it. The Nuggets aren’t even losing with pride, and all of the casual fans are long gone by now. Only the true diehards remain, and I thank every one of you. It’s time to just hope and pray the Nuggets don’t try to shortcut their way out of the coming rebuild with half-measures and stopgap signings — the same kind of stuff that’s led to this mess. Next up: Wednesday, Feb. 25 vs. Phoenix at 7 p.m. MST. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.
Rapid Reaction: Oklahoma City 119, Denver 94 http://ift.tt/1DaaDmL http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Ugh. Rapid reaction coming in a few minutes. Leave your comments below.
5 on 5: Roundball Reacts to the Trade Deadline http://ift.tt/1vqSD7D http://ift.tt/eA8V8J After taking a few days to look back at one of the wildest trade deadlines we’ve ever seen, Roundball tries to wrap its collective head around what the heck we all just witnessed. Denver sent Arron Afflalo to Portland and the JaVale McGee era came to a close when the Nuggets shipped him and his massive contract to Philadelphia for the low cost of a first round pick (and the rights to my main man Chukwudiebere Maduabum!). Five of our writers, plus one of our readers (shout out to Alex Posey!), got together to discuss: 1. How do you grade the Afflalo trade? Mitchell: C+. Yes, Denver was able to grab a first round pick in the deal. No, they didn’t really get anything else. Will Barton is the only player of the three the Nuggets acquired that will suit up for Denver, and the wing was already crowded before Barton got to town. If Tim Connelly nails the pick, the trade will look better, but it would have been nice to add a player to fill the void Afflalo left at shooting guard. Justin: C. Trading away Afflalo was an okay play. He was likely leaving during the offseason. So, getting something is better than losing him for nothing. The lottery protected pick for 2016 and 2017 hurts because not only will Portland hold onto it if they miss the playoffs in either season, Denver won’t own it until after those seasons when the pick becomes two second rounders. They lose a legitimate starter and a good locker room guy who could’ve been a positive influence during a potential rebuild in Afflalo along with Alonzo Gee. And they lose two players received in the trade in Victor Claver and Thomas Robinson who’ve had their contracts bought out. I wish the Nuggets had been able to pry away C.J. McCollum. Hopefully, Will Barton can provide something. I think he will (see below). LotharBot: A. The Nuggets helped their chances of getting a good draft pick this year and got an extra first round pick in 2016, all for a player who was likely to leave in the offseason. Charlie: B+. Afflalo is having a down year. The efficiency and smarts that have defined his game aren’t that noticeable anymore. He needed a change of scenery, so I’m fine with getting a first round pick and expirings. Acquiring AAA was a mistake; he was likely to leave and the Nuggets weren’t going to come away from this looking rosy. I do feel the Nuggets made the best of a less-than-ideal situation here. Johnny: B+. It was unclear whether anyone would pony up a first rounder for Afflalo in the week leading up to the deadline, so getting that in itself is a win. Add in the fact that they didn’t take any salary back beyond this season and we had the first sign that the front office is looking to make some moves this offseason instead of waiting until 2016. Alex: B+. The Nuggets were able to trade a player who was leaving at season’s end anyway. With Claver and Robinson waived/bought out, Will Barton will be interesting to watch when/if he gets court time. The draft pick hopefully is used to build a future. Hopefully. 2. How do you grade the McGee trade? Mitchell: B. JaVale McGee wasn’t worth $12, let alone $12 million. Even if it cost Denver a first round pick (which was the lesser of the two firsts acquired in the Mozgov trade, and will likely turn into two seconds), it was worth it to have some other team pay McGee to play basketball (even if he threw to a pretty awesome dunk in his first game in Philadelphia). Justin: D-. I grade this trade mostly on the merits of the move that preceded it. Tim Connelly inherited the disaster that is JaVale McGee. That’s unfortunate because he didn’t deserve it. Masai Ujiri trading Nene for McGee was a catastrophic failure. He cemented that failure by giving McGee a ludicrous and unfounded albatross of a contract. It’s an indictment of Ujiri and Josh Kroenke that Denver needed to cede a first round pick in order to rid themselves of McGee’s immature, loser mentality. However, it was a necessary play for a young locker room. Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris needn’t be exposed to players like JaVale. I’m surprised Sam Hinkie made the move, regardless of the incoming draft pick. Denver got lucky. LotharBot: B. The McGee contract was terrible when it was signed. Even next season, it would have only had value as a matching piece — but a trade exception is better because it allows the Nuggets to facilitate moves between other teams by absorbing salary without sending any out. It’s likely the Nuggets can get back a pick or player better than the heavily-protected pick they gave up here, but the risk of ending up with nothing costs them a letter grade. Charlie: F+. I get the move — the Nuggets are bad and hemorrhaging money while attendance and TV rating plummet. Financially, the Nuggets are a mess and it made no sense to carry such an expensive roster. I just don’t get why it had to be now, and had to cost a first round pick. Denver’s not going anywhere, so they did not HAVE to be desperate to do this now at a heavy cost. It’s just a cheap move, I understand it but I think this could have been solved a better way. Johnny: B. Look, I get it, giving up a first round pick just to get rid of a guy doesn’t look good. When that guy is JaVale McGee? That changes the equation. The pick we gave up to move McGee will likely be within 2 or 3 picks either way in 2016 of the one we received from Portland in the Afflalo trade, so it looks like the moves were pretty clearly related.and pretty clearly intended to increase our financial flexibility THIS offseason, which gives me hope for avoiding a drawn out re-building process. Alex: A. Denver got rid of a lot of salary, which should help free agency, in theory. McGee was a failed project and hasn’t offered the team anything in terms of production. Downside is the Nuggets also gave up their first round pick acquired from OKC, which makes the extra free agency money a little more important. Moves like this (stopgap/quick-fix) haven’t helped the team lately though. 3. What do you expect out of the players/picks that Denver acquired? Mitchell: If Denver’s plan is to rebuild through the draft, then I expect that future first-round pick to turn into a starter/strong rotation player. If Will Barton plays like Alonzo Gee did all season (or better), then the Nuggets should keep him around. I also would have liked to have seen a Kenneth Faried/Thomas Robinson combo up front, at least for a few minutes a game. Justin: I have no idea, as I am yet to even look at the players potentially available in this year’s draft. We obviously don’t know where Denver will be selecting. Hopefully, they can sneak into the top-5. If things continue down their current trajectory, there should be no problem accomplishing this feat. Tim Connelly and his scout staff did a pretty great job in last year’s draft by getting Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris. I expect nothing less this June. Will Barton is interesting. His numbers are far from exemplary. But he’s a good rebounder, a good ball-hawk, an underrated passer, good at minimizing turnovers, has nice footwork, and is athletic as all hell. He’s also able to create his own shot and get to the free throw line–all things Denver needs. He’s got great size for a two-guard (6-foot-7) and a fantastic wingspan (6-foot-10), which aids his defense and ball-hawking style. He might need to put on 5-to-10 pounds. I’d also like to see him improve his 3-point shooting. However, beggars can’t be choosers. I am curious why he fell to the 40th-pick in the 2012 draft. But I think he’s someone worth hanging onto beyond this season depending on how he performs during the final 28 games. I hope he gets that chance because not only does he deserve it, he’s a hard worker and has a huge chip on his shoulder. That’s just the type of player this locker room needs. LotharBot: The Nuggets’ strength in the past few years has been turning late draft picks into good players like Lawson, Faried, and Nurkic. I expect the Portland pick to turn into a rotation player in the 2016 offseason. None of the players acquired in deadline trades will stay with the team. Joffrey Lauvergne, acquired in the Koufos trade in 2013 and signed at the deadline, has played well in the Adriatic league and on the French World Cup team, and has a chance to be a solid backup for Faried and Nurkic going forward. Charlie: I really liked getting Portland’s 2016 pick, versus this year’s which is likely to be 25th or later — basically a second rounder. I’m not high on any of the expiring guys Denver got back. If Barton sticks, it’s a bonus but I wouldn’t hold out hope. Johnny: I don’t expect anything out of the players, which is fine. Maybe they’ll surprise with more opportunity to play here in Denver, but I don’t think that was part of the plan. I expect the Nuggets will have their own lottery pick this year, Portland’s pick and the pick-swap with New York next year, and the Memphis pick (protected 1-5 at that point) and their own in 2017. Judging by Connelly’s performance in 2014’s draft, I’m excited to see what happens with these picks. I bet 1 or 2 get packaged in trades along the way, but it’s just another set of assets that will give the Nuggets a good opportunity to improve after the season. Alex: I expect Will Barton to get some time on the court, along with some other young Nuggets. Robinson and Claver never suiting up doesn’t negatively affect the team, in my opinion. Anytime a team acquires a non-lottery first round pick, there’s a chance to get a diamond in the rough. The best hope is to get a player to develop that can eventually contribute. 4. What was the best non-Nuggets deadline deal? Mitchell: I loved the move Miami made to get Goran Dragic, regardless of what happened to Chris Bosh. Making a move for a top-level point guard ensures the Bosh/Dwyane Wade championship window stays open for another couple years, at least. Elite point guards do not grow on trees, even if the price was steep for the impending free agent. I also was a fan of Houston picking up KJ McDaniels and Pablo Prigioni for basically nothing. Justin: Milwaukee is doing things the right way–rebuilding AND making the playoffs. It certainly helps they’re in the Eastern Conference. But they’re still making solid, if not slightly risky, moves to stay competitive. Brandon Knight was an All-Star this season and due a hefty contract extension in the summer. But he ranked 37th among point guards in ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus. Michael Carter-Williams is just twelve slots lower (49th) while playing for a far worse team in the Sixers. I think they’re betting on MCW improving with more surrounding talent and Jason Kidd’s tutelage. This also frees up the cap space to give breakout star, and most-improved player of the year candidate, Khris Middleton the large contract extension he’s due in a few months. The Bucks are in fantastic shape moving forward. LotharBot: Kevin Garnett to Minnesota. Charlie: K.J. McDaniels to Houston. I love his game and his fit with the Rockets, and I’m surprised Philly sold him out for so little. Maybe they didn’t want to pay him, but Philly JUST TRADED FOR JAVALE! McDaniels is a selfless and versatile high-flyer, I would have loved to see Denver take a shot at acquiring him. Johnny: It has to be Miami picking up Goran Dragic. I’m not sure it’s enough for them to be contenders to take the East again, but he’s surrounded by players that complement his style of play and they should at least continue to be a fun team to watch and potentially move into the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff teams. It’s inconceivable (this word means what I think it means) that Phoenix would move Dragic after their surprisingly entertaining year last year, but Miami took advantage of the situation and should have a solid core of players for years to come. Alex: KG to Minnesota, for nostalgia’s sake. I was a fan of the Suns/Heat deal. With the loss of Chris Bosh though, we won’t be able to see the true potential of the deal for Miami this season. OKC did well getting so many younger players in an effort to reach the top of the Western Conference. Best move based on potential was the Suns/Bucks/Sixers trade. 5. What was one deal you wanted to see Denver make that didn’t happen? Mitchell: There was a feeling during the last hours of the deadline that the Nuggets wanted to clean house. Getting rid of Kenneth Faried would have been a step in the right direction. A combination of a first round pick and a veteran a la David West would have been a nice haul for the team. Besides that, selling high on your best asset, Ty Lawson, during a rebuild would have been nice. If Timofey Mozgov is worth two first-round picks, then Ty is worth at least that and then some. Justin: As has been well-documented, I’m not the biggest fan of Kenneth Faried. I never have been. Based on all indications, it would appear the coaching staff isn’t, either. The contract extension he was given last summer was questionable at best. It hurts his trade value going forward because he’s reached his ceiling. He’s best suited in a bench role. This has always been the case. Trading a bench contributor that plays the deepest position in the NBA at his contract is going to be fairly difficult. Rebuilding teams don’t want that contract taking up cap space for an average power forward. Contending teams don’t want to trade for a bench contributor earning that kind of salary. But if Denver was able to do anything else this trade deadline, I would’ve liked to see them trade Faried for future draft picks and expiring contracts. This opinion may not be popular, but it’s one in which I take full ownership. Getting something for Wilson Chandler would have been nice as well. LotharBot: Chris Dempsey reported there was a market for Randy Foye. I don’t see him as part of the Nuggets’ future, and he’s taking developmental minutes away from Gary Harris. He’s also a consummate professional who deserves a shot at being on a competitive team. I would have liked to see him moved for any asset. Charlie: Like many fans, I thought the Nuggets would turn their roster of mismatched vets into at least one decent young player. Perhaps a CJ McCollum type who could use a fresh start and a chance to grow alongside Denver’s other young guys. It’s a bummer the Nuggets couldn’t turn their guys into anything other than money savings and picks. Johnny: I didn’t necessarily want the Nuggets to move Ty, Kenneth or Wilson, but I was hoping a team would panic and make a Godfather offer for at least one of them. The moves that were made were patient and measured, but moving one of those three really could have jump-started the re-building process. Making a bigger trade also would have meant a chance to move Hickson, but you can’t win ‘em all, right? Overall, I’m content with the Nuggets position as the rest of the season will be an opportunity to see the young guys play, see if Gallo can get his swagger back (and stay healthy) and see who steps up as a team leader the rest of the way. Alex: I would have liked to see a move for either Ty Lawson or Wilson Chandler. I understand the asking price was high for both players though. I believe both players will leave Denver when presented the chance. As is the business of pro sports. I’m a Nuggets fan ready for full rebuild/blow-it-up mode, so any player was expendable in my Nuggets win-deprived mind.
Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 81 Milwaukee Bucks 89 http://ift.tt/1MGwfwv http://ift.tt/eA8V8J After having the lead for much of the game, the Nuggets cannot overcome a poor shooting night as they fall to the Bucks on the road. Due to the fact that the game was televised on Altitude 2, the contest was blacked out on NBA League Pass and I was unable to watch it. Although I listened to the game, there won’t be any grades tonight. For the readers that were able to see the game, post your thoughts and comments below.
RCotW: Spare some change http://ift.tt/17zJNsR http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Welcome to the Reader Comment of the Week, a recurring series where we’ll highlight voices from Roundball Mining Company community found in our forum, comments section, in e-mails and through Twitter rants. This week’s comment comes courtesy of pgwarner: Josh and Tim are building this team around Shaw. Interview after interview they hay have given shows this. They say its their plan. Oh, how the winds of change are blowing in Denver. If there was any doubt about intentions for this season, that should have all been cleared up at the trade deadline. While it hurts to see AAA disappear to Portland, he hasn’t lived up to his potential all season. And, as many of you in the comments pointed out, the Nuggets accepted far too little for McGee, but it’s kinda worth any price to have him off the roster. Now the only question is: Will Shaw rally the players, trying to emulate the post-Melo era of nobodies who closed on the season on a passionate streak? Or will the team keep on losing, fade into obscurity, and cost everyone their jobs. Shaw’s plan? Who knows? Want to get your voice heard? Head on over to the forum, reach out to us via e-mail, and as always, be sure to comment after articles
Trade deadline signals overdue change of thinking http://ift.tt/19HMvhw http://ift.tt/eA8V8J At last season’s trade deadline, then-rookie GM Tim Connelly didn’t mix words about where he thought the Nuggets were headed. He boldly proclaimed that his team got better after trading for Jan Vesely and Aaron Brooks, dismissing the notion that the Nuggets were doing anything other than reloading and getting healthy for another immediate playoff push. As we now know, things didn’t work out that way. The Nuggets traded a malcontent Andre Miller and an expiring Jordan Hamilton for two guys who didn’t stick, but the line of thinking was clear. The Nuggets still thought they belonged in the playoffs and anything other than win-now moves weren’t even going to be considered. A year later, it’s safe to say that whole line of thinking is gone — and rightfully so. After an action-packed trade deadline, the Nuggets didn’t totally gut their roster nor did they commit to a rebuilding strategy. Instead, they’ve selectively moved off bits and pieces with future flexibility as the central goal. The Nuggets could choose to go a number of ways from here, but they’ve finally opened a path towards something different. At long last, it seems the Nuggets have stopped chasing down the next quick fix — a dubious strategy Tim Connelly never should have wasted a year and a half pursuing. Instead, the Nuggets seem to be taking stock of what they are with a real respect for the process. It’s incredibly hard to build a winner in the NBA, and you’re not going to get there by taking shortcuts. Yesterday’s deadline seemed like an admission that the Nuggets are ready to accept that truth. To get a full understanding of where the Nuggets are headed, we have to look at this season’s trades in aggregate. In total, the Nuggets moved off their starting center, starting shooting guard, and their worst contract for financial savings and two first round picks. Yes, it could have been three picks had the Nuggets not surrendered one to dump JaVale, but that’s not a bad return for what amounted to a crappy team anyway. The Nuggets were headed nowhere with what they had, and instead turned it into financial flexibility and a couple more picks. It is the promise of another way forward where one one previously didn’t exist. Curiously, the Nuggets didn’t go full-bore for immediate flexibility, keeping guys like Wilson Chandler who almost certainly would have netted savings AND additional picks. That’s the most interesting wrinkle to these moves — they could be a precursor to total demolition or a stopgap bridge to a major remodel. Either way the message is clear: the Nuggets are taking a step back now to move forward later. I like that better than the alternative — an overpriced box of “assets” masquerading as trade bait for the next available superstar. That strategy had run its course and wasn’t ever that likely to work. At least now, the Nuggets can be bad without an unreasonably expensive payroll. At least the Nuggets make sense again financially. Getting two trade exceptions, two picks, and moving JaVale and Mozgov’s $17 million off next year’s payroll are significant changes in terms of the Nuggets’ future. Denver went from a near-tax team to the possibility of $10 million plus in potential space this summer. The Nuggets could choose to go that route or not — but that choice simply wasn’t available under the old way of thinking, the way the team operated under for the past year and a half. The process is not something we’ve talked about since Masai Ujiri roamed the executive level offices of the Pepsi Center. With yesterday’s moves, that word is finally part of the Denver Nuggets’ vocabulary again.
Link: Nuggets Sign Lauvergne http://ift.tt/1COQaRQ http://ift.tt/eA8V8J In addition to adding three expiring contracts players from Portland, Denver agreed to terms with 2013 draft pick Joffrey Lauvergne today. Denver closes out deadline day with roughly the same draft picks as they started (swapping OKC’s future first rounder for Portland’s) and significantly more salary flexibility for this offseason. It remains to be seen if they’ll be able to do anything with that flexibility, but I’d rather have the chance to do something positive, than no chance at all. If nothing else, the rest of the season will be a good opportunity to see what Nurkic, Harris and Lauvergne can do against NBA competition.
Woj: JaVale McGee traded to Sixers http://ift.tt/1A9TZDY http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Shortly after unloading Arron Afflalo for a first and a second, the Nuggets have used their OKC pick to send JaVale McGee to the Philadelphia 76ers, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Denver has agreed to send JaVale McGee to Philadelphia, along with a first-round pick via OKC, league source tells Yahoo Sports. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 19, 2015 Philadelphia has the cap space to absorb JaVale in Denver’s salary-dump-type move, and therefore doesn’t have to send any players or salary back to Denver in return. The Nuggets had to give up one of their better picks to facilitate the deal, a future first via OKC originally acquired in the Timofey Mozgov trade. Thankfully the Nuggets still keep all their own picks and retain the Memphis first from the Mozgov trade, as well as a Portland first freshly obtained for Arron Afflalo. Philadelphia, meanwhile, will surpass the salary floor by absorbing JaVale and the more than $12 million owed to him next season. The Nuggets had tried to attach JaVale in trades for a difference-making player but found no success, instead, they’ve smartly collected assets to soften the cost of moving McGee’s onerous contract. Denver currently carries the maximum 15 players without the spot earmarked for French big man Joffrey Lauvergne, who is waiting to be signed. The Nuggets could buy someone out or complete another trade to make room. Victor Claver, Will Barton, and Randy Foye are all buyout candidates. Darrel Arthur or Wilson Chandler could still be traded, though Woj is reporting the Nuggets are “likely done dealing” for the day. Unless something else emerges between now and deadline, Denver is done dealing today, league source tells Yahoo. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 19, 2015
Report: Arron Afflalo Traded to Portland http://ift.tt/1CNQ5QT http://ift.tt/eA8V8J And Deadline Day gets rolling! Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Arron Afflalo is on his way to Portland. Here are details of the trade: Blazers will send Will Barton, Victor Claver, a future lottery protected 1st and a second-round pick to Denver for Afflalo and Alonzo Gee. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 19, 2015 Thomas Robinson goes to the Nuggets too, source tells Yahoo. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 19, 2015 It seems like patience paid off for Tim Connelly as this is a whole lot more than teams were willing to publicly offer for the past week. Details will be added as they become available.
Flashes Before Your Eyes – Nuggets-Cavs 2010 Revisited http://ift.tt/1CKI9xl http://ift.tt/1MyLiZ0 On February 16th, 2010, the Denver Nuggets were a contending team. They had the second-best record in the Western Conference and a giant chip on their shoulder to prove their 2009 success wasn’t a fluke. They had one of the league’s best efficiency differentials, were tough as nails, and fear nobody. On February 17th, 2010, that was all ripped to shreds. George Karl’s cancer had re-emerged, this time in his neck and throat. Real life interjected and Denver’s championship dreams would shrivel up in a long series of events that have led to this year’s abysmal season. The Nuggets, consummate have-nots, were just gonna have to get out of the way for a while. The good news is Karl recovered from another brutal bout with cancer and is getting the last chance at NBA glory he wanted in Sacramento. I’m happy for him and hope he has success. But I always see success anyone from the ’10 team has as bittersweet. Karl won Coach of the Year in ’13. Carmelo Anthony was third in MVP voting in ’13. Chris Andersen helped the Heat win a title in ’13. Nene is helping the Wizards rise in the East right now. Kenyon Martin helped the Clippers and Knicks win playoff series after leaving Denver. Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo are entering their primes. That’s sustainability that Masai Ujiri didn’t think would happen when he took over the front office in the summer of ’10. Karl’s absence caused the team to fall to pieces, but we’ll never know if they could have recovered as a group. When Melo tried to play hardball with Josh Kroenke to get some more help Josh let him in on some key information: he was looking to tear down and rebuild. Cue the Melodrama. Before their fall that Nuggets team was pretty special. No, they weren’t a dominating powerhouse that was odds-on favorites to win it all. But they were in the conversation. Most importantly, they thought they would win it all. And they were aching to get their chance to prove it. On February 18th, 2010, five years ago tonight, the Nuggets played one the most memorable games in franchise history. A matchup with the actual odds-on favorite to win it all, LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. Let’s revisit this classic game and try to remember that Denver was getting pretty crazy about those Nuggets. Just so you know, I’ve seen this game around 20 times. I’m sick in the head and can’t let go of the past, apparently. Each time I notice something new. This time it’s that during tip-off the Nuggets bench is locked together in another huddle. It would have been nice if that continued and Chauncey Billups didn’t lead a revolt against Adrian Dantley, or if Dantley wasn’t bad enough to force Chauncey to lead a revolt against him. Don’t worry, I’m not psychotic enough to do a full game recap. This game is five years old! I’m already in the fourth quarter. 5:53 left in the 4th: Craig Sager reports that Birdman will not return after straining his lower back. I distinctly remember telling people before the ’09 trade deadline the Nuggets needed another big because “Birdman will never be the first big off the bench for a championship team.” Well, Game 7 of the ’13 Finals happened so, you know. So the Nuggets were shorthanded the rest of the way facing a 94-94 tie in one of the league’s toughest places to play. After slow starts, Melo and LeBron were hot in the third going for 13 and 9 points, respectfully. At this point Melo’s at 32 points, six rebounds, and five assists while his counterpart (mostly guarded by Afflalo) has put up 26, 11, and 15. They’re just getting started. Up to this point the Nuggets passing as a whole was excellent. They logged 25 assists for the game. The ’09-’10 team went 21-1 when they logged 25 or more assists. 21-1. Almost literally unbeatable. The familiar crunch-time lineup of Chauncey-JR Smith-Melo-Kenyon-Nene was out for the Nuggets while Cleveland ran out Mo Williams, Delonte West, LeBron, Anthony Parker, and Shaquille O’Neal. At the time that wasn’t that bad of a lineup sans LeBron. It looks pretty bad now, but you know, let’s move on. It went out the window once LeBron moved to Miami and could not be stopped by any opposing human force on the planet, but in his early days Karl had his number. LeBron never imposed his will against Denver because Karl had his defenders keep him moving left and right, kept at least two men between him and the basket, and forced his teammates to be the ones making plays. LeBron went 3-8 against Karl’s Nuggets while with the Cavs. 3:34 left in 4th: A Chauncey-Nene pick and roll ends with a reverse dunk by the big man. People built like Nene at age 27 are not supposed to move like Nene at age 27. 2:39 left: LeBron attacks Melo off the dribble, draws a foul, and converts a layup with nobody meeting him at the rim. Melo’s always had a knack for making his defense look like he’s trying to kill a fly. Just a bunch of swatting at air. 1:24 left: Chauncey goes to the line to break a tie at 102. This was when he was still playing at a high enough level where his shooting percentages weren’t too big of a factor. At that point in the game he had 13 points on 17 field goal attempts and four missed threes. This was Mr. Big Shot though. The Nuggets had good luck moving out Allen Iverson right before he fell off the face of the basketball Earth. Same can be said about Chauncey. As painful as that is, he was hobbled in the ’11 Playoffs for New York and was never really the same. Meanwhile, Ty Lawson, who logged 15 minutes in this game, is just entering his prime. 1:14 left: LeBron is in attack mode, going to the rim every chance he gets. 1:02 left: Melo gets the ball in the post, sizes up LeBron, starts to dribble lef-OH, WAIT- THE VORTEX! Space-time miscues, an invisible explosion at the rim, millions of people realizing they’re living a lie, Melo’s most devastating move. And he got the King on it! :49 left: LeBron drills a three to tie, gives Melo a “how ya like me know?” look. This is getting fun. Missed threes by Parker and Chauncey run out the clock and it’s knotted up at 106. On the Nuggets Nation board I used to run there were a few guys having meltdowns when the Nuggets didn’t take a timeout after the Parker miss. Chauncey’s decision to go for a hero ball moment did not go over well for some fans. Overtime starts with Melo and LeBron lighting each other up. They’re on fire and getting torched! 2:24 left in OT: A fan yells “bend your knees” as Shaq heaves up a couple of free throws. By the way, Shaq played with the Cavaliers? But seriously, that was one of the worst knee-jerk reactions a contender has had in recent memory. Dwight Howard had a big offensive output in the ’09 East Finals, the Cavs front office decided they had to address the newly discovered roadblock in their pursuit of a championship, and their solution was Shaq. Yes, the team that went on to lose LeBron James in his prime picked up defensive powerhouse Shaq to stop offensive juggernaut Dwight Howard. 1:58 left: Kenyon’s 16th rebound comes on a rim-bending putback. Who needs post moves? 1:50 left: LeBron posts the first 40/10/15 game since Pete Maravich in ’74. The guys who burned his jersey after The Decision, what are your thoughts? 1:13 left: Nuggets up five, can take the clock down to under a minute left and try to make it a three possession game with a bucket after a stop. So JR does the most JR thing he can and fouls Parker 33-feet from the basket. Two free throws. Mike Fratello is ready to cry. This of course gets the Cavs going again and they respond with a stop and an offensive rebound on their next possession. When Kenyon secures the next rebound with 36 seconds left he attempts to drop the ball off to Chauncey but forgets that Anderson Varejao is on his hip and suddenly Cleveland has the ball and a timeout. Oops. :27 left: LeBron gets Nene on a switch and attacks from half-court. Nene stays with him but gives too much body which results in his sixth foul and LeBron nails the shot. Free throw good, 116-116. Always at some point in this game I find myself deep in hardcore “what if?” mode. *—* That Nuggets team seems to be remembered as a dysfunctional bunch that wasn’t very mentally tough. It’s another unfortunate product of their lack of sustained success. That team was resilient, tough, scrappy, and had huge road wins to back it up. They beat the top-dog Lakers in their building late in the regular season in ’10. They stole Game 3 in the Dallas series in ’09 and they almost did it again in Game 4. After a gut-wrenching Game 1 loss in the ’09 West Finals, they took every punch Los Angeles could give them and walked out of Staples Center with a Game 2 win. Game 5 didn’t go their way, but it wasn’t supposed to. Championship teams in the NBA need those bad tastes in their mouths to drive them. The ’09 Nuggets were always going to fall short against the Lakers, just like those Lakers were destined to fall short in ’08. Same applied to LeBron when he ditched the Cavs. 2010 was it for the Nuggets. That was their year. I’ve thought about how if Karl’s cancer (God forbiding) wasn’t detected for four more months or was detected seven months earlier things would’ve been different. If things played out like they were on pace to before Karl’s announcement the Nuggets would’ve seen Oklahoma City in the first round. Take your pick between Dallas, Portland, or San Antonio in the second round, none were better than Denver that season had things not fallen apart. Then, the Lakers. *—* :22 left: Chauncey brings the ball up. The Predatory Loans Arena is in a frenzy. *—* ESPN’s Bill Simmons wrote the day before this game “if you came out of a 10-year coma and watched the 2010 All-Star Game, you would have turned it off thinking that Wade, LeBron and Melo were the three best players alive in some order. And except for Kobe not being included, you would have been right. You can absolutely win a title if Carmelo is your best player.” In an alternate reality Melo could have been the ’10 Finals MVP. Instead, he was handcuffed to yet another disaster that was out of his control. He’s had more things hold his teams back than probably any other Hall of Fame player ever. Don’t believe me? -Nene once blew out his knee -Kenyon had major knee surgery on both knees -Nene had cancer! -Karl decided a laissez-faire approach in ’07-’08 was a good idea -Karl’s cancer -Chauncey & Amare Stoudemire were hobbled in the ’11 playoffs -Tyson Chandler was hobbled in the ’12 playoffs -Amare put his hand through a fire extinguisher case in the ’12 playoffs -JR attacked Jason Terry in the ’13 playoffs -Chandler broke his leg last season -Mike Woodson -James Dolan -Amare Stoudemire The one year things actually went right around Melo he found himself in the Western Conference Finals. The trade-off was playing with a bad elbow that he eventually had surgery on and breaking his hand. All the people that have said through the years that you can’t win with Carmelo Anthony may have been right, but not for the reasons they think. He might just be cursed. *—* :07 left: Chauncey feeds Melo off the left elbow. LeBron latches on. *—* What haunts me the most about that year is how Boston ran out of gas in the Finals. They killed themselves to take a 3-2 series lead and then they were finished. What if that was the Nuggets coming back to Pepsi Center for Games 6 & 7? Who knows? All we know is the collapse against Utah, the Melodrama, everyone from the ’09 West Finals team being exiled within four years, and, of course, Karl watching his team crumble as he was burned by radiation for days on end. That’s life. We put up with the misery just to savor the good parts though. *—* :05 left: Melo sizes up LeBron. He waits. He has a chance to make things right. He can prevent the season from slipping out of control. He can smooth stuff over a day after the franchise was shattered by the c-word news. :03.9 left: He lets it fly. :01.9 left: YES! Nuggets lead, 118-116! After the ensuing timeout, LeBron slips and barely gets a shot off over Afflalo, no good! Nuggets win! Despite a historic game by the league MVP the boys in blue prevail. On the night of February 18th, 2010, a brief flash in time, things were good for the Denver Nuggets. They took down the top team in the league in their building and were ready to get through the misfortune of Karl’s situation. They just didn’t know about the misery that lied ahead. That’s why we savor the good parts.
Three Days to the Deadline: Nuggets Trade Rumor Roundup http://ift.tt/1MsJq3Y http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Here is the latest trade deadline (Feb. 19, 1pm MST) buzz from around the league regarding the Denver Nuggets: Arron Afflalo Not much news on the Afflalo trade front, despite AAA being mentioned more often in rumors than any other Nugget. Ramona Shelburne continues to track his suitors: No serious talks yet for Arron Afflalo, but word is OKC, Kings, Bulls, Clippers have discussed. Would be an interesting add for a contender — Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 16, 2015 The Blazers are notably absent from this list despite having a late, first-round pick that would potentially be a palatable trade for Afflalo, who is able to opt out of his contract after this season. The Bulls own Sacramento’s first-round pick (top 10 protected) and a pick-swap option with the Cavs, so I’m not sure if there’s any muatching value there in the first round. The Nuggets own OKC’s first-rounder if it falls after pick 18. I’m not sure if there’s a way to make a trade that changes the protection on a pick, or if it would even be worth it, but it sure would be nice to have that pick this year. The Clippers don’t own a first-round pick, so it would take a third team, or the Nuggets changing their tune, for AAA to end up there. Jameer Nelson Jameer Nelson rumors heated up over the weekend with Shams Charina of Real GM reporting interest from Washington and Miami and Brian Windhorst of ESPN reporting interest from Cleveland. It’s unclear what kind of return the Nuggets can expect for Nelson, and I wouldn’t be opposed to keeping him as a relatively cheap and productive back-up point guard, but if teams are desperate and get into a bidding war, maybe something valuable will be heading the Nuggets way. I can’t imagine Nelson bringing in anything more than a second-round pick, so we’ll see. Ty Lawson Zach Lowe at Grantland spearheaded the Ty Lawson rumors this morning. Boston, Sacramento and Houston are mentioned as possible destinations for Ty, though only the Boston rumor seemed to be based on any actual evidence of discussions. The Celtics certainly have the picks to put something interesting together, and I do like Avery Bradley as a complementary role-player who plays the game the right way, but the C’s don’t have anyone that they’re likely to offer that makes it worth giving up Ty at this point. Houston has some interesting pieces to offer in terms of players and picks, and Terrence Jones becomes a lot more enticing if there are any decent potential offers on the table for Kenneth Faried. Sacramento would have to get real creative to put together enough pieces for the Nuggets to bite. Kenneth Faried Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reported a couple weeks ago that Toronto was looking at Faried as a target for some front-court help. Faried’s impending contract extension will require some fuzzy math to get a trade done, but considering Masai Ujiri is involved, fuzzy math shouldn’t be a problem. The Nuggets front office is well aware of Ujiri’s trade-wizardry and are clearly showing that they are patient enough to wait for the right offer, so unless another team gets involved in talks for the Manimal and drives his value up, it’s unlikely he’s moved by the deadline. Wilson Chandler Ill-Will trade buzz has dwindled since ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that “Tim Connelly is known to be a Chandler fan.” It sounds like it’s going to take a pretty strong offer to pry Chandler away, and I don’t see that coming despite his inspired play this season. Should the Nuggets consider a Reggie Jackson, Wilson Chandler swap if they’re able to find a major offer for Lawson? The Rest Howard Beck reports that Randy Foye and Darrell Arthur are buyout candidates if not moved by the deadline (towards the bottom of the article) and JJ Hickson and Javale McGee have only popped up in the (presumably swiftly) declined trade for Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez. Will Laws of Sports Illustrated reported that Danillo Gallinari is likely to be moved, but I don’t see Denver receiving anything of value back in a trade considering his contract and injury history. What’s Next? It’s hard to get a read on the game-plan until the first domino falls, but it’s looking like Tim Connelly isn’t afraid to wait out the market. No single player is generating a significant amount of buzz, but there are enough teams interested in Afflalo, Chandler, Nelson (maybe even Lawson), and few teams willing to deal away productive veterans, that they could bid their way up to a deal the Nuggets front office is willing to accept when it comes down to the wire.
RCotW: Rally the troops http://ift.tt/1ywSYAI http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Welcome to the Reader Comment of the Week, a recurring series where we’ll highlight voices from Roundball Mining Company community found in our forum, comments section, in e-mails and through Twitter rants. This week’s comment comes courtesy of Nugman: It couldn’t hurt if there was more outcry from the press to get rid of Shaw. Joshy may not feel pressure now, but if the media pushed it, the public would talk about it more and Joshy would feel more pressure. That’s how things work in our world today. Some small issues become huge because social media and then the press picks it up. And here is the conundrum: the Denver Nuggets, in general, don’t get much pub in the mainstream sports press. Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to battle over the Nuggets’ future on PTI. But if local press is to get involved, how would that come about? What kind of pressure is needed for management to make a change? Want to get your voice heard? Head on over to the forum, reach out to us via e-mail, and as always, be sure to comment after articles
The Dominoes are Ready to Fall http://ift.tt/1F0pUts http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Having played their last game before the All-Star break, the Denver Nuggets are likely to start wheeling and dealing to reshape the roster before their games resume on the night of the February 20th trade deadline. There have been a number of rumors swirling around NBA circles and the Nuggets seem to have a part in a majority of them. Here is a breakdown of the players most likely to be on the move in the next week or so. Arron Afflalo If he’s putting in the effort defensively and hitting his jump shots, AAA is an ideal addition for any contender looking for flexibility on both ends of the floor. I’ve loved Afflalo’s game since his UCLA days, but I’ve also been incredibly disappointed with his most recent stint with the Nuggets. It seems like teams around the league are being patient, especially considering his uneven play, and hoping the Nuggets make a panic trade, but I think a contender will pony up a 1st round pick before the deadline with so much apparent interest around the league. Wilson Chandler Chandler, arguably, has the most trade value of any Nugget at the deadline, combining balanced production with a reasonable contract. He will never carry a team, but he has the personality to fit in to any team dynamics. He’s frustrating to watch when your team is aching for a leader on the court, but for a team in need of a player to do the behind-the-scenes jobs, Chandler is an ideal fit. Any contender in need of a two-way wing player would be crazy not to offer a late first round pick for Chandler and the Nuggets would be crazy not to accept. With a healthy Gallinari, I would be hesitant to trade Chandler, but who knows what Gallo’s future holds? Kenneth Faried The Manimal is a joy to watch when he’s at his best. He does things on the court that nobody else in the league can do. That being said, he plays the game in a way that requires a very specific type of offensive and defensive scheme and fit in order to be successful. While Kenneth seems to work well with Nuggets building block Jusuf Nurkic, I don’t think it’s worth his upcoming cap figure to wait and see if they’re a championship frontcourt combination or not. While his value isn’t as high as it was coming off the World Cup, I think he holds enough value for teams looking to upgrade their Power Forward position, that now is the time to cash in on the Manimal brand. Ty Lawson Ty has easily been my favorite Nugget in the post-Melo era (Gallo is a close second hurt by his injuries and Nurkic is hot on his heels). That being said, if the Nuggets are looking for a complete rebuild, and it seems likely that’s the case, Ty is the player that should be able to bring the highest return. The draft has a few point guards in the top-dozen picks or so (not to mention they’re all around 6’5″) and trading Ty Lawson will put Denver in a good position to pick one of those players in the upcoming draft. It hurts to trade away a player who’s clearly in the top half of the league at his position, but that’s the type of gamble it takes to become a contender with a mid-market team. The Salary Matchers Pretty much the rest of the (non-rookie) roster falls into the category of players who could be on the move in the next week in order to make the salaries work. The one veteran player who seems like he’s the least likely to leave town is Gallinari, and that’s just because he hasn’t proven he’s healthy yet. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a borderline contender, especially in the East (Charlotte?) take a gamble on Gallo. The Draft Picks I wouldn’t expect any of the Nuggets draft picks to move unless they’re able to acquire a young, talented player with upside or a veteran borderline All-Star that upgrades a position. Here are the draft picks the Nuggets have the rights to in the next couple years: 2015: Denver first round pick – mid-lottery is likely at the moment. 2015: Memphis first round pick – protected 1-5 and 15-30 2016: protected 1-5 and 15-30 2017: protected 1-5 2018: protected 1-5 2019: unprotected 2015: Oklahoma City first round pick – protected 1-18 2016: protected 1-15 2017: protected 1-15 2018: If not yet conveyed, Denver receives OKC’s 2018 and 2019 second round picks 2015: LA Clippers second round pick – protected 31-55 2016: Right to swap first round picks with New York Knicks – the wild card! What’s likely to happen? My money is on Afflalo moving on, along with some combination of mid-level veterans for picks and expiring contracts. Chandler could also be gone if a team decides to pony up a high value draft pick or prospect. Faried would be more likely to be on the move if his extension didn’t kick in after the season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a contender in need of an energy boost in the front court bite on Kenneth. Ty will take a significant haul to move out of Denver, but it’s certainly possible with his production at a premium position. Maybe ol’ coach Karl will do us a solid and push Boogie Cousins out of town?
Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 106 Los Angeles Lakers 96 http://ift.tt/16RU2Zm http://ift.tt/eA8V8J The Nuggets head into a long All-Star break on a winning note. We welcome any warmth you feel like sharing tonight. Or not.
Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 114 Oklahoma City Thunder 124 http://ift.tt/1AdGwvd http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Kevin Durant was the story tonight as he single-handedly dismantled the Nuggets on their home court. The Nuggets showed some heart and continually kept the game within reach, after being down by more than 20 early on. But, in the end, the Thunder proved to be too much. I guess superstars do matter after all. Full breakdown coming soon.
Reader Recap: Denver Nuggets 88 Detroit Pistons 98 http://ift.tt/16sAtGJ http://ift.tt/eA8V8J After trailing by as many 22 in the third quarter, the Nuggets used a big fourth quarter surge to lose to the Detroit Pistons by just 10. Ty Lawson led the way with 20 and 9, but everyone else was pretty miserable. With the loss the Nuggets completed an 0-3 road trip against teams that all had fewer wins at the start of the trip. The Nuggets are 19-32 and have moved into the eighth lottery spot. Now is a good time for fans to bookmark tankathon to keep up on the latest in the lottery race. Much apologies for not getting a full recap out, but once again our staff was unable to catch the game. We welcome readers to leave their thoughts on this loss below. Here are a few talking points I noticed looking back at the game: Gary Harris was the first man off the bench, a game after Foye was a healthy scratch in Boston. The Nuggets seem to realize they’re in a lost season and want to get Harris some minutes, but Shaw decided to go to Foye when Detroit’s lead ballooned in the second half. Foye helped bring the Nuggets back within single digits, so it’ll be interesting to see how this situation plays out going forward. The right thing to do is get Harris out there, but Foye can’t be happy about sitting after finally getting healthy enough to play. Nurkic had a terrible offensive game, also struggling to keep the Pistons physical front line off the offensive glass. It was not a great game for Nurkic, who needs to learn that he hasn’t quite earned the right to shoot baseline 15-footers to try and break out of a slump. The Nuggets did a decent job contesting the paint in the second half. Faried, despite the tough matchup on Monroe, really ramped up his effort trying to give Denver a chance. It was not a good game for the Manimal, but I liked the fight he showed. Next up: Monday, Feb. 9 vs. OKC (7 p.m. MST). Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.
RCotW: Used to failure http://ift.tt/1xAcoEf http://ift.tt/eA8V8J Welcome to the Reader Comment of the Week, a recurring series where we’ll highlight voices from Roundball Mining Company community found in our forum, comments section, in e-mails and through Twitter rants. This week’s comment comes courtesy of heykyleinsf: Broncos over their 55 year history have the 4th best all time record in the NFL. Broncos fans are used to winning. Avs won a title their first year here and another shortly after.. and are more often a playoff team than not. Nuggets fans? WE ARE USED TO THIS. Nothing starkly different. But the question remains: should Nuggets fans be used to this? What kind of standard should the NBA-loving peoples of Denver hold their team to? I’m sure there are plenty of people in Philadelphia who understand and accept the constant tanking, but it can’t be said with certainty that’s what’s going on in Denver. Want to get your voice heard? Head on over to the forum, reach out to us via e-mail, and as always, be sure to comment after articles
Rapid Reaction: Denver Nuggets 100 Boston Celtics 104 http://ift.tt/1xlU9lU http://ift.tt/eA8V8J The Nuggets finally play decent game and suffer a routine, acceptable loss to the Boston Celtics. It’s the same result, but a massive improvement compared to what we saw over the past week. Leave your thoughts here while the rapid reaction goes up.
Where Is The Outrage? http://ift.tt/1zLgXBx http://ift.tt/eA8V8J If I told you that a team finished first in their division for four straight years, had numerous impressive playoff wins during that stretch, even advancing to that sports’ championship game once, you would probably assume the likelihood of that team’s coach having long-term security is pretty strong? Now, if I told you that a different team went from winning 70% of their games, setting the franchise mark for wins in a season, to winning 44% the following year, and are on track to win less than 40% of their total games in the current season, you would likely assume that coach would be under severe scrutiny from fans and ownership, both desperately clamoring to return to their previous success. Strangely however, that doesn’t appear to be the case in the city of Denver. Obviously, the team in the first example is the Denver Broncos, who famously ousted their entire coaching staff following one of the more successful four year stretches in franchise history. The team in the second example is the Denver Nuggets, who went from setting the aforementioned franchise mark for wins in 2012 under George Karl, to recently reaching a new franchise-low in terms of player effort and general damns given under Brian Shaw. But, something strange is happening in Denver in response to the Nuggets recent lackluster performance that I just can’t wrap my unassuming brain around. The same fiery passion expressed by the fans of the Broncos that got Josh McDaniels run out of town, that led to a coach with a 72% winning percentage being fired like a grocery bagger caught stealing Marlboros, that demanded a winning culture at all costs, is completely absent when it comes to the Nuggets. Sure, there are the miscellaneous tweets that contain some cleverly concocted hashtag, implying a severe distaste for Shaw’s performance. There is a sprinkling of utter confoundment at his in-game decisions, and tendency to vomit post-game quotes deflecting any and all blame, mixed in as well. But, I don’t see the overwhelming resentment and resounding indignation that is typically associated with this level of repugnance. It isn’t just the fans I am talking about. They understand that Shaw’s run has reached its end, and they are at least sparking conversation about his inevitable downfall. But, to listen to the local media, you wouldn’t even know Denver had an NBA team. There is no dialogue being exchanged between talk show hosts, attempting to spearhead change. There are no debates about what is wrong with the Nuggets, and how they can be fixed. There are no “fire Shaw” discussions to speak of at all in fact. There is silence. Disconcerting and deafening silence. I, for one, find it irresponsible. Look, I understand this is a town dominated by the Broncos. I get that Denver fans have little left to give to any teams not wearing orange and blue, and the little to do have to give gets distributed between the Avalanche and Rockies. I get that. But, we can’t just sit back and pretend that a game doesn’t get played on hardwood over at the Pepsi Center. There are certainly fans who care, and our local media should understand and appreciate that. When the Nuggets were at their best, they averaged anywhere between 17,000 and 18,000 fans per night, putting them in the top half of league attendance. This season, that number has precipitously dropped to under 15,000, and they are in the bottom-four in attendance. Obviously, people do care about the Nuggets, and more specifically, they care what type of product is being put out onto the court. So, the fans, although not allowing their voice to be heard through other vehicles, are most definitely speaking with their wallets, which is in many ways is what really matters. But, that isn’t enough. On three separate occasions this season, I have labeled a particular Nuggets loss to be bad enough to be considered a fireable offense, their home loss to the Lakers in late December, their embarrassing home drubbing at the hands of the Hornets a few short days ago, and now I have added their most recent humiliation to the 76ers. Those losses are three of the most ignominious losses the Nuggets have experienced in as many years as I can remember, and yet nothing has changed. Why? Because there is no outrage, and thus no public pressure being placed on the Nuggets front office to initiate meaningful change. They feel like they have a pass for this season, and every day that goes by without the Nuggets even being a part of the local discussion, they are being proven right. So, I implore our local media, and all of Nuggets Nation to allow your voice to be heard. State your intolerance and disgust at the current state of the team to whomever will listen. Offer suggestions about ways to improve it. Engage in debate about who the next coach should be. But, don’t let another day pass without this undignified state of the team being part of the collective narrative. Put the proverbial pressure around the necks of those so recklessly handling this franchise and squeeze until all of your strength has vacated. Don’t worry. The Broncos aren’t going anywhere and will still be there to receive your undivided attention come draft time in April I promise.
Rapid Reaction: A new low http://ift.tt/16jGpSK http://ift.tt/eA8V8J The 76ers are tanking and playing their fourth game in five nights, but had no problem dismantling the hapless Nuggets tonight. For the Denver Nuggets, it was just another day — a third consecutive blowout loss and perhaps the most demoralizing of them all. Sam Hinkie, the architect of the current 76ers, has drawn the ire of many in NBA circles for the the unabashedly deliberate form of tanking he has employed over the last few seasons. The Sixers constantly flirt with the salary floor while starting a mishmash of lottery picks and obscure young prospects, content with the fact that talent disparity alone will earn them a loss most nights. Most of the time it’s ugly, but at least there’s a long-term goal in mind and upside on display. Contrast that with the current Nuggets, who couldn’t be more different in everything but results. The Nuggets are a veteran-laden squad with one of the higher payrolls in the league, flirting with the luxury tax after doubling down on a 36-win team last season. Despite trading away Mozgov in a salary dump, the Nuggets have added to their payroll to bring on veterans like Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson with every expectation of making a playoff push. Since acquiring Jameer Nelson last month, the Nuggets have gone 1-10. It’s a bad joke, and there’s still more than 30 games to go in this season. The next step is rumored to be another trade for a big-money veteran like Brook Lopez, pretty much par for the course for a bad franchise in the midst of another lost season. You cannot get more wayward and directionless than this. Matt Moore has a fantastic breakdown of the current dumpster fire known as the Nuggets. Before we get into Brian Shaw, let’s remember that the Nuggets started tonight’s game making their first five three-point attempts. It was perhaps the best shooting performance to start a game all season. I’m not sure this is another case of the Nuggets not wanting to compete, or straight up trying to lose games as Shaw suggested to the media today. Even if Shaw is right, which he isn’t, I’m not sure I can muster up enough energy to care anymore. The Nuggets certainly couldn’t either. No. — Is B.Shaw Fired Yet? (@isbshawfiredyet) February 1, 2015 Next up: Wednesday, Feb. 4 at Boston (5:30 p.m. MST) Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.