Nuggets Miss out on O’Neal; Gain a Chance at Beasley?

There were two free agent signings today that has a direct impact on the Denver Nuggets. Jermaine O’Neal signed with the Boston Celtics and Linas Kleiza is returning to the NBA after signing an offer sheet with the Toronto Raptors. The O’Neal signing is very disappointing, but the Kleiza offer sheet could open up a tremendous opportunity for Denver.

The O’Neal signing is devastating to the Nuggets’ chances of fielding a quasi contending squad. There are no other big men on the unrestricted market that could provide the size and skills O’Neal possesses. Boston secured his services by offering him a full midlevel deal for two seasons worth roughly $11.8 million. Even so, if the Nuggets lost O’Neal to the Celtics based on their refusal to top the Celtics offer by tacking a third year onto the contract I believe they did the right thing. O’Neal is still an effective player, but paying him over $6 million a season in 2012-13 under a new CBA would be less than appealing.

It is possible the Nuggets will now turn their attention to Brad Miller as the remaining pool of centers drops off dramatically after him. Miller provides a big body to take up space on the block and would certainly make Denver better. However, despite his reputation as a solid perimeter shooter his numbers dropped off considerably last season.

There is good news from the Nuggets’ pursuit of O’Neal as it indicates that Stan Kroenke is willing to spend their midlevel exception this season on a player that will help the team.

Heading north of the border the Raptors have signed Linas Kleiza to a four year, $18.8 million offer sheet. The Raptors are a team that has shown interest in Kleiza in the past and it is no surprise they have reached an agreement with him.

Denver now has seven days to match the offer, but I suspect that outcome is highly unlikely. Kleiza is a very limited player and with the Nuggets watching the bottom line closely I cannot imagine them matching Toronto’s offer. However, some good can still come from this for Denver.

Please take note, this is complete speculation on my part, but the following is a scenario that peaks my interest. Denver cannot sign and trade Kleiza now that he has signed an offer sheet. However, if Toronto rescinds the offer sheet it frees up the possibility of working out a trade. With Chris Bosh having committed to sign in Miami and the Heat seeking to part with Michael Beasley and his salary of around $5 million a year Denver, Toronto and Miami could work out a trade where Denver signs and trades Keliza to Toronto, Toronto sends Bosh to Miami in another sign and trade and Beasley comes to Denver. Toronto gets Kleiza, Bosh gets his six year max deal with Miami and Denver gets an intriguing young big man.

That would be a pretty good coup for Denver considering Keliza has not exactly been very high on their list of prized assets.

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  • runningdonut

    Jeremy, take every criticism about how limited Melo’s game is and apply it into a headcase with a much lower ceiling. That’s Michael Beasley. He’s a small forward and doesn’t help Denver anymore than Kleiza. He’s a young big in the same sense that Melo and Balkman are.

    Chris Tomasson and Hochman never reported anything related to O’neal, so I’m not so sure Kroenke is ready to spend. Add to that the fact we have a lame duck front office and my feeling that Kenyon Martin’s career is over – Denvers like it’s inevitably becoming Cleveland West

  • Jeremy

    I agree Beasley is a headcase, however I do not think it is accurate to say he is a small forward. Offensively he is a bit too perimeter oriented, but his numbers show he is more effective as a power forward and has been “blocked” by Haslem (which tells us something about how he has flopped in and of itself).

    I thought this idea was a long shot as it would require Denver to open up the purse strings much more than anticipated this summer, but I hate losing an asset for nothing and this would have brought a pretty nice asset in exchange for Kleiza who I never expected to suit up for Denver again anyway.

    Thanks for reading and dropping the comment runningdonut, I appreciate it.

  • Josh

    Wouldn’t Toronto have to be worried about the Nuggets matching to make this work? I guess they get a trade exception, but is there any other reason to think they’d go for this?

  • Jeremy

    Teams do crazy things to avoid having to wait out an unrestricted free agent signing. Remember Kiki trading away three future first round picks for the right to overpay Kenyon even more and avoid the minimal chance the Nets decided to match?

  • Beefy

    Too late on Beaz, he’s already gone to Minny.

    Unfortunately, while I was fairly optimistic at the beginning of this offseason, I have to say that I’m starting to see the clouds. While our guard depth is excellent, our frontcourt is and has been atrocious.

    Kenyon’s future is seriously in doubt with his injury, Bird is getting old, Nene will never be the C we need him to be, and all we have waiting for us is Brian Butch behind them.

    I don’t know what the Nuggets should do at this point. Maybe Petro is their best bet at this point.

  • David

    Jeremy, there’s a lot of talk about trading for Biedrins. Woody Paige is even suggesting that we should try to trade KMart and J.R. for Biedrins and Monta Ellis. I’m wondering what you think. My opinion is that Biedrins is a terrible idea. Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of things I like about Biedrins, and there was a time (2 or 3 years ago) when I thought he would look great in a Nuggets uniform. But there are several reasons why I don’t think he works right now, especially at his salary. I could explain it, but it would take several paragraphs, and I don’t want to “hijack” your space unless you want me to. I’ll just look for your thoughts for now.

    First is his salary – both in dollars and especially in the length of his contract. Haven’t we been trying to get out from under a long expensive contract (Kenyon) for years? Do we want to take on another one? I know it’s “only” 9 million/year and “only” 3 more years. But for his ability, that’s a lot. Plus, under a new CBA, a $9 mil contract might be equivalent to today’s $12 mil contract (it’s possible). He’s either a good backup or a below-average starter on a contender, which we hope to be. You don’t pay 9 million for that, do you? At least, smart teams don’t.

    Second, he duplicates a lot of what we already have in Birdman. He’s better in some areas, but he’s similar. Why do we need two “Birdmen”? In particular, why would we get rid of Kenyon’s post defense, perimeter defense, defensive “quarterbacking”, rebounding, and tenacity (in Paige’s proposed deal) for a slightly better version of a healthy Birdman who can’t shoot freethrows at all? And if we can somehow keep Kenyon and add Biedrins, I uderstand he would provide depth. But I don’t think you pay 9 mil/year just for depth.

    Third, when I did want Biedrins, the Nuggets were truly a running team. As Chauncey says, “I’m not a Ferrari. I’m a ’57 Chevy.” Or something like that. We’re not really a running team any more. And even if we were, it wouldn’t work in the playoffs. So Biedrins is not as good a fit as he was previously.

    Fourth, does adding Biedrins really make us a serious contender? Would the Lakers suddenly feel threatened? If we spend that kind of money, it had better make us the clear Number 2 in the West, at least. And I don’t think it does, at all.

    The Nuggets need an affordable true center who brings what we don’t already have. Jermaine O’neal was a decent option. Brad Miller, if affordable, is OK as a last resort. But what really should have happened is the Nuggets should have traded into the late first or early second round of the draft, which had an extraordinary number of big men with potential. The Nuggets apparently wanted Derrick Caracter (my choice was Dexter Pittman). Instead, Caracter went to the Lakers and we got nothing. We don’t have good options, so we really should have done whatever we had to in order to get a low-risk (non-guaranteed contract, low salary, don’t have to trade much for the pick) second rounder who could have possibly helped. In my opinion, the Nuggets really blew it.

    As for the other part of Woody’s proposed deal (J.R. for Monta Ellis), that sounds like trading J.R.’s expiring contract for 3 more seasons of a much more expensive J.R. I don’t know anything about Ellis’s off-court behavior. But GS is having trouble finding any takers for him because of selfishness and shot selection on the court (sound familiar). So, no thanks.

  • David

    Sorry, I really meant to delete all paragraphs other than the first one. Duh! I think I used up my comments for the year, right?

  • Neil

    I just have to say that I am completely frustrated with the nuggets so far this summer. I completely agree with the fact that we should have traded into the draft for a late first or early second rounder. It really worries me to hear that Kenyon will miss most if not all of next season. I agree with not signing Biedrins for way too much money but we have to do something, right? Brad Miller doesn’t bring any shiny rays of hope into my life. I’m extremely glad we didn’t sign Beasley, that kids a mess. I think we should trade JR and Kenyon’s expiring contract for somebody like Al Jefferson but that’s likely to not happen. Maybe we should just sign Shaq and start calling ourselves the cavaliers. Either way I am glad to see Karl back on the bench. I couldn’t handle another loss to the pootah Jazz in the first round.

  • Matt

    Beasley is fucked in the head

  • Andy

    I like Craig Smith. He is one of those annoying offensive rebounders and decent defensive players who used to drive the Nuggets nuts when he was with the T-wolves. A Reggie Evans type that can shoot some free throws.

  • Lance

    Looks like all this is over. Our only options left are Kleiza and Brad Miller. I like adding Kleiza. He hussles, runs the court, drives the lane and will do a little rebounding. Remember, we did go to the conference finals with him and lost in the first round without him. I think he can be more consistent than JR. It might make JR more expendable at the trade deadline also. Miller is at the end of his career, but he is a very smart player and a great passer and he still can hit the 15 footer. Centers will have to come out and guard him and maybe most importantly, Nene can play power forward instead of center at times. Last but not least, Allen Iverson anyone?

  • Lance

    If Melo is leaving after next year anyway, why not add Iverson. It will be 10 years before we are relevant again anyway. Let’s go out with a bang.

  • Warner

    I have to say with the remaining fa’s I’m very pleased with the Harrington signing. He’s an agile big man who can shoot the 3 and he can put up 25 on any given night. His defense is a liability with his health/ a bit of a head case. However, karl has a history with dealing with these types of players and I think he should blend nicely with the team. Especially Kenyon is gone I think having nene harrington melo afflalo chauncey is a solid starting lineup with lawson playing INCREASED minutes this season. He could be our x-factor. P.S. I would trade J.R. for poo on a stick at the moment what a waist of cap space and talent. He’s an asset when he’s playing well but when he’s not he’s certainly not worth the personality bs