Free Agents are Dropping Like Flies

My August Free Agency Update post was a big hit around the NBA. The Minnesota Timberwolves have signed Mavericks center Ryan Hollins to an offer sheet, reportedly $7 million over three years, and as I surmised with 15 contracts on the books for 2009-10 the Mavs will not match it. Cuban tweeted the following:

“congrats (sic)to ryan (sic) hollins (sic). wish (sic) him the best w (sic) twolves (sic).”

Now there are reports that Shelden Williams is going to sign a one year minimum salary contract with the Boston Celtics.

Either the Nuggets have something up their sleeve or they are bound and determined not to spend money this offseason.

Video Scouting Report – Arron Afflalo

The Denver Nuggets lone inspiring move so far this offseason was to acquire Arron Afflalo from the Detroit Pistons. In fact Bill Simmons had the following to say about Afflalo coming to Denver:

Now this is how you run a team. You let someone else overpay Dahntay Jones (Indiana, $11 million, four years) and replace him with a short-term guy with the same skills (defense and 3-point shooting) for one-third of the price. I might dump Morey for the Wark (Denver’s Mark Warkentien) as my role-model GM soon.

Say what you want about Simmons, he knows enough about basketball to get a reportedly 700 page book published on the topic so if he is that bullish on the swap of Jones for Afflalo that cannot be a bad thing.

I would argue that not only is Afflalo cheaper than Jones, he is better on both ends of the court, but do not take my word for it, see for yourself.

I am impressed with the fact that the Pistons were comfortable putting Afflalo on both J.R. Smith and Chauncey Billups and he did reasonably well against both, although Chauncey did score some points on him. The two areas Afflalo needs to improve in is absorbing contact and not giving up space, which can be a matter of balance, and trusting his ability to move his feet so that he is in position to challenge the pull up jumper.

Offensively he is a far more talented player than Jones. He will not throw down any explosive dunks, but when he puts the ball on the floor it is not a sign that the possession is about to end badly.

Afflalo is the kind of player who rounds out a contending roster and I expect Nuggets fans to fall in love with him early in the season.

August Free Agency Update

There have been a great many free agents who have been named on this site as players one or more of us would like to see the Denver Nuggets pursue. Out of all the players who have been bandied about the Nuggets have not signed…not a one of them. In fact, the Nuggets have only been mentioned in discussions for two that I can remember, Grant Hill and Channing Frye.

The market is thinning and players I thought the Nuggets might have been able to go after in August on the cheap are getting snatched up. Players like Drew Gooden, who received a much nicer deal from Dallas than I expected him to get, and even Ike Diogu are getting snatched up left and right. Today Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the Cavaliers have offered Leon Powe a contract. Powe is injured and likely will not suit up until after the New Year. I was hoping he might be a guy the Nuggets could have looked at signing not long before the season, yet he is up in the free agent queue before we hit August.

The bargains come out of the woodwork after everyone else has spent their money and we have reached that point. The only teams who have not used their mid level exceptions that still appear willing to do so are the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers. The Nuggets did a pretty good job in late July last season signing Chris “Birdman” Andersen and Dahntay Jones and trading for Renaldo Balkman all after the twenty-fourth.

I think we can all agree that the area the roster is in most need of a boost is the fourth big man, no offense intended there Malik Allen. There are still a bevy of big bodies available, but not just any large man will do. We do not need or want Pavel Podkolzin. The chances of the Nuggets nabbing a player who can pull off a Chris Andersen resurrection type season are slimmer than Andrei Kirilenko, but it is still a possibility.

I have already mentioned Shelden Williams in previous posts as an option for a bargain basement big who can rebound as well as anyone having posted a rebound rate of 17.3 or better in two of his first three seasons. As a point of reference Birdman led the Nuggets in rebound rate last season with a 17.6. Williams’ biggest problem is he does not have great hands and has little offensive game. With the lineups the Nuggets can put on the floor I do not think a lack of scoring from their fourth big will be overly damaging.

A player that intrigues me who I have not mentioned as of yet is Ryan Hollins. Hollins is a very active, although slight, big man. He is not a scorer, but does have very good hands and brings great energy. Above all, he is long, athletic and only 24 years old. The bad news is he is a restricted free agent whose rights are owned by the Dallas Mavericks. The largest first year salary the Nuggets can offer anyone is $2.1 million and I suspected the Mavericks would match that in a hear beat. However, the Mavericks have painted themselves into the corner after signing Drew Gooden and Tim Thomas. They now have the maximum 15 players under contract. Greg Buckner does reportedly have a partially guaranteed contract, I do not know what date that contract becomes fully guaranteed, but I have seen in a couple of places that the guaranteed portion of his salary is $1.06 million. The Mavs may want to hang onto Buckner though as a de facto expiring deal as it is only partially guaranteed for 2010-11 too.

If Denver signs Hollins to an offer sheet Dallas would have seven days to either waive/buy out a player or pull off a two for one trade to clear up a spot in order to match the contract. Mark Cuban has certainly shown his willingness to spend is back and he may bite the bullet and pay 16 players this season. Then again, he might decide that Hollins is not worth it. Also, the Mavericks have James Singleton and Gerald Green as free agents from last season who they may be interested in retaining. Hollins may be getable.

Moving further down the list we have Johan Petro. Petro showed flashes of competence and I have yet to hear his name surface in any rumors…at all. Denver should be able to get him at a significant discount from his qualifying offer of $2.85 million.

After Petro we get down into the Mikki Moore/Brian Skinner/Sean Marks/Stromile Swift territory and that is a place I do not want to go although each of those guys have at least a little something going for them (Moore – energy, Skinner – beef, Marks – smarts, Swift – athleticism).

The only other “big man” I would be interested in for Denver is Steve Novak. Novak is 6’10”, but there is no way he can be considered a big. The only evidence we need to prove that is to look at his 6.2 rebound rate in 2008-09. As a comparison J.R. Smith posted a 7.7 rebound rate. Case closed. However, Novak does one thing that gets your attention, drain threes. He broke into the Clippers’ lineup in January and hit some very big shots over the second half of the season. He had a four game stretch in March where he made 24 of 40 attempts including two 7-11 games.

In my mind Novak could be a cheap replacement for Linas Kleiza, he does not run the floor like Kleiza does (although Kleiza frequently does not run the floor like Kleiza either), but he is a much better three point shooter and I think would be a nice end of the rotation specialist. Novak is a restricted free agent, but no one knows how much Donald Sterling will green light to keep him in L.A. My guess would be not much especially if the Clippers sign Allen Iverson or Ramon Sessions.

While it is frustrating to watch the other teams in the west adding players to their rosters, there is still hope for the Nuggets to add a meaningful piece to the roster so do not lose hope.

We need better from the Denver Post

After going eight days without a peep about the Nuggets we get this. The headline of the article is “It’s Down to Kleiza or Carter.” Chris Dempsey never says anywhere in the article that the Nuggets can or will only sign either Kleiza or Carter. They might retain both or they might let them both, but apparently the headline writer has it all figured out.

The sad thing is Dempsey is the one that is made to look bad as his article is branded by the inaccurate headline.

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