Denver Nuggets Resign Johan Petro

The Denver Nuggets have made another smart signing as it was announced today that they have resigned Johan Petro. There has been no word of what the contract terms are, but I would guess that it is a one or two year deal starting at the five year veteran’s minimum salary of $959,111.

The Nuggets have done a very good job of managing their payroll this offseason. No one is going to write a book about Denver’s 2009 offseason although I cannot fault them for anything they have done. Today’s signing of Petro is the perfect example of developing a plan and then executing it.

Early in the summer the Nuggets had to decide whether or not they would extend a qualifying offer (QO) of just under $2.85 million to Petro. All of us knew at the time he was not worth that much, but the Nuggets really needed to have a player like Petro, a legit seven footer who can bang in the paint, on the roster. Denver could have done the safe thing and given Petro the QO. No team was going to top it and it would have guaranteed that Petro would return to Denver although at an overinflated price tag.

Instead of wasting money and as recommended here they made the calculated decision to allow Petro to become a free agent and take the risk that someone would offer him a little more money. I thought it seemed like the right thing to do and the gamble has paid off. Denver will retain Petro’s services at nearly only a third of the cost of his QO.

In addition to the savings they earned with Petro they have also resigned Chris Andersen at a very reasonable first year salary, replaced Dahntay Jones with the cheaper and more talented Arron Afflalo and instead of meeting Linas Kleiza’s salary wishes they are likely to replace him with the cheaper and more sound Wally Szczerbiak.

That is good business and that is how you build a sustainable salary structure. The transactions Denver has made are not front page news, but they are crafty and full of basketball wisdom.

Looking ahead the signing now opens up two questions, will Malik Allen be relegated to the bench and will Coby Karl be in training camp?

Last season the Nuggets had primarily a three man rotation between power forward and center with Nene, Kenyon Martin and Birdman. Linas Kleiza and Renaldo Balkman received the bulk of the remaining minutes at power forward. Before Petro was retained it appeared the Nuggets may have been planning on playing Allen as much as ten minutes a night. Petro is fully capable of filling that role and all three of the Nuggets other front court players can play power forward both offensively and defensively should they be on the floor with Petro. I suspect Petro will make Allen superfluous in the rotation, which I believe is a good thing.

From a roster standpoint Petro’s return may reduce Summer League Fan Favorite Coby Karl’s chances of coming to Denver. The Nuggets are only one player away from hitting the 13 player minimum roster requirement and as mentioned above that spot seems destined to go to Szczerbiak. I assume Karl the Elder will know if Stan Kroenke is willing to foot the bill for a fourteenth player or not. The answer to that question will determine if Coby is in Denver this fall.

Karl the Younger is undoubtedly an NBA player and will go to a team’s camp where he has a great chance to make the team. If Karl the Elder knows the Nuggets will not sign a fourteenth player Karl the Younger will go elsewhere, but if Karl the Younger is brought into Nuggets camp then I think that is a good sign that the Nuggets will carry a fourteenth player, at least to start the season, and Coby will be that fourteenth warm body.

The 2009-10 roster and rotation are taking shape and even though the Nuggets have not done anything dramatic, I think they are executing their offseason plans beautifully.

I love it when a plan comes together.

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  • abs

    Gotta say I’m a bit disappointed. I know fans always want a big splash, and those splashes don’t always work out, but you know, in some ways I’m more disappointed than I was with the Camby trade, which I didn’t think was the end of the world like some did. It’s just that the Nuggets were so close last year, and their biggest need so obvious, and they essentially pushed. And not only did they push, it probably means no Coby Karl, who I think could’ve been a real solid contributor to this team next year and in the future, adding to their young core.

    They need another big who can gaurd quick bigs, and they still need one. Unless Petro suddenly makes huge strides, he’s nothing more than a mopup guy. Just would’ve been nice to see a trade for a guy like Jeff Foster, who would have been perfect for the roster and wouldn’t have added a huge amount of salary, especially if they could’ve unloaded Allen in the deal. Maybe wishful thinking, but it feels like they could’ve done better adding a decent backup big…

  • Joe Wolfpack

    Wally would be a solid pick up and could provide some scoring off the bench. Barring injuries, who do you see in a 9-10 man rotation? If JR starts (after his suspension), i’ve got the next 5 off the bench as Afflalo, AC, Lawson, Balkman, and Birdman, Who scores out of that group? If you bring in Wally, does Balkman go back to random energy guy? Where would Petro come in? Great guys to have no doubt, but are they rotation guys?

  • cwhitaker01

    Have to agree with JW on the rotation given the current roster. WZ would provide some stability, leadership and professionalism from the bench, not to mention the scoring. Given the interest in Mason, Murray and other potential 10 to 15 point per game rotation guys, I think the Nuggets are having a quiet but productive offseason providing they land a one of the three mentioned. However, this addition will relegate Balkman and Petro to the bench until called upon. Not a bad problem to have from an organizations standpoint. With the limited number of spots left, Coby could still land on the roster at number 14 or 15. With butts in the seats, Kronke will go a little over the cap but not much.

  • Stumbleweed

    Desmond Mason is not a dependable or good anything — dude was one of the absolutely basement players in the league production-wise last year… on the THUNDER. I really hope we don’t waste a roster spot on that guy when Wally fills so many more needs (mainly scoring, which Desmond Mason is definitively not good at).

    He shoots well under 45% from the field (a horrible eFG% of .285 on jumpshots) and absolutely cannot spread the floor (his awesome 0.1 3PTA last year and his 26% career numbers attest to that). Why would we pick him up? We just got rid of our defensive guy who can’t contribute anything on the other end (Dahntay) and upgraded to a younger, more talented Afflalo… why would we pick up Mason?? That would be a big disappointment if we pick him up and Wally is still without a team.

  • Stumbleweed

    Also, Balkman does what Mason does, only better… and he’s a ton more athletic and not as injury-prone.. remember that Mason missed most of last season with a hyper-extended knee. Mason’s a good rebounder and a solid defender from the SF spot, but Balkman is too and he’s already taking up a roster spot. Viva Wally!

  • Stumbleweed

    A nice article detailing why exactly Mason is a horrible idea for any team, much less one with a premium on roster spots/salary who plans to compete for a championship: http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=3220

    God I hope we don’t end up with Mason…