Introducing the Commentbag!

Welcome to my first ever comment bag (and from what I can tell almost the first ever comment bag period as someone might have beat me to it by a matter of hours). You have read mailbags before, but there has been so much good discussion about recent events that I wanted to make sure everyone saw some of them, and of course I would like to add my highly insightful thoughts as well.  All grammatical errors are the responsibility of the author although I did clean a couple of them up.  Lucky for you all I hated English class too.

drewjay: Jeremy, I would love to read how your opinion on the LeBron decision, although you might be sick of hearing about it.

There is nothing I have to add that has not already been said. I am disappointed that we do not get to see Wade and James battling it out on the court for eastern conference supremacy, but honestly we had not seen LeBron and Wade face off in the postseason anyway. Wade and the Heat had become somewhat marginalized as he was surrounded by a weaker supporting cast than even LeBron.

While it is easy to say that LeBron was disloyal to Cleveland there is very little loyalty in sports anyway. It is a business. Teams trade players over and over, just look at how many teams has Drew Gooden played for, but when it comes to franchise players they are supposed to stick it out in the city they landed in through thick and thin just because they were drafted to play there.

Players have a very finite number of years to succeed. Cleveland had seven years to put LeBron into the best position possible. They tried and so did he. He has the right to move on and choose the best situation for himself. For all the people longing for him to stay in Cleveland and try to carry a subpar supporting cast to a title ask yourself this; If LeBron were to have resigned with the Cavaliers and never won a championship would you be saying, “So what if he never won a ring, he stayed in Cleveland back in 2010 and that is what is important?” I doubt it.

In my mind the biggest positive with James and Bosh going to Miami is it makes another team relevant. Granted the Heat won just four seasons ago, however I am tired of the small handful of teams winning titles year in and year out. I am sick of seeing the Lakers and Spurs and Celtics win every season. Maybe the Heat will simply usher in another era of one team dominating the others and add another team to the pile of squads that plague us with their success. Even so, I look forward to the day where the Spurs are sans Duncan, the Lakers are without Kobe and the big three of Boston are sent out to pasture. I think we will see some great battles between the Magic and Heat in the East and watch out for Oklahoma City becoming a dominating force in the west and Dallas has at least one final run left in them. As long as Denver somehow finds a way to be included in the conversation we can look forward to a very exciting next five seasons in the NBA.

As far as “The Decision” considering all the other trash on television, what is one hour of a guy glorifying himself and announcing where he is going to play basketball. With all the media and fan hype leading up to this summer, I would have been disappointed if there was not some climatic moment. I agree with what others have said that he should have let everyone know that Cleveland was out of the running in order to avoid that gut wrenching moment for his home state fans when he announced where his talents would be taken.

Above all, there is no guarantee that the Beach Boys will win anything. Wade has had health problems. Bosh is a very talented player, but has yet to win anything and LeBron has been somewhat disappointing in the playoffs as well. He has been in the league seven seasons and won eight playoff series. Think about that.

Your Thoughts on Al Harrington

Hoss: Offensively its a good move. We have cover for KMart in the first few months of the season. And now we have a big coming off the bench that can score. But defense and rebounding have to be concerns for this team. Who is going to do the dirty work? Age is a concern, but Harrington has been fairly healthy historically. Does this move signal the eventual exit of KMart from the team?

I think Kenyon’s current knee injury may signal the exit of Kenyon from the NBA. He has been a warrior battling back from his numerous injuries during his career. You can complain about his contract and his attitude on the court in the past, but he has worked his tail off to contribute to the Nuggets. I hope he can bring Denver a nice asset with his expiring contract and then return to finish his career in Denver. He is not overly talented, but he fights and claws and will even guard Kobe Bryant in the playoffs if that is what the coach asks of him.

That being said, the silver lining of his massive contract has been the prospect of trading him for another really nice asset as an expiring contract and with the current financial state of the league there is no team that needs to dump that kind of salary next season which is very frustrating.

TSal: I think Harrington will help a bit. He’s a Kenyon that can score. Defense can be taught and unfortunately when you play for terrible teams, you spend time playing keep up (scoring points) and not trying to stay ahead (defense).

asdqqq: Harrington is, by all accounts, a great locker room, all effort every night guy. And he had a minor falling out with D’Antoni last year because the coach was not allowing him to play in the post more and telling him to take so many perimeter shots. He may have been a chucker last year, but it doesn’t sound like it was by his choice. He’s also been recently described by scouts as a solid on-ball defender. Just trying to throw out some additional info to temper all the broad, doom & gloom generalizations.

More from asdqqq: I just don’t buy your argument for why this will not fairly significantly help the offense.

First, he’s good enough shooting from the perimeter that teams will care. Harrington has shot well over .360 from 3 since ’07 except for last year. Ray Allen shot .363 last year. Kobe shot .329. But that didn’t mean teams left them alone at the 3 point line. Most significantly, Harrington is a streaky shooter. Teams can’t take the risk of leaving him open and having him get in a rhythm from range.

Second, I think you are misunderstanding how teams can double off of Kenyon. You ask how many times I saw “Kenyon cut through the lane and receive a pass from Carmelo because he was left uncovered.” I would respond, a small fraction of the amount of times I saw Kenyon brick a wide open 12-foot jumper, one that Harrington can regularly hit.

I agree, Harrington will help the Nuggets be a better offensive team, but the amount of improvement that can be garnered on that end of the floor is minimal.  When healthy, Denver is a deadly offensive team.  There is just not that much more efficiency to be gained.  If Harrington can help carry some of the load and allow Carmelo to save more energy for defense, that would be great, as long as Melo actually uses his excess energy on defense.

I have to admit that I helped drive the Harrington-does-not-defend bandwagon. He did play very good defense early in his career in Indy and in the two systems he has played in recently defense has not been a priority. He is not going to be the defensive stalwart he was early on in his career, his body probably will not let him. He will have the opportunity to prove his detractors wrong and he has said that is his goal, but I think the best we can hope for is that he fits in as a cog in a finely tuned team defense. After watching Denver defend last season, I am not so sure that is what we get.

Kyle: The only good that can come from this is possibly to just outscore the opponent every night. The nugs have always ranked in the top in scoring and that is with K-Mart and Birdman and Nene all rotating in the 4 and 5 spots (K-mart and Nene can both score in bunches on any given night), but none of these three bigs can be a significant scorer every single game. Playing Harrington at the 4 and then rotating the other guys in will give Denver more offensive weapons as well as rest the ailing knees of the three bigs. The positive on the defense can be that Nene, Bird and Kenyon each play different distinct styles of defense which could be utilized by more minutes in a particular game depending on the opponent.

Elsid: Overall, does the Harrington move even matter?… I think he is a solid player and is worth a mid level deal but it certainly doesn’t help us at this point.

This is the most important point of all. Does Harrington push this team into the top four in the west? The Lakers will be there, Dallas will be there, Oklahoma City will be there, Portland and Houston will be there. Utah and San Antonio will be very good as well. The only way Denver is a factor in the playoffs is if they pull off a major midseason trade or Carmelo, Lawson and J.R. Smith all take large leaps forward.

K: You would think the nuggets would learn a lesson from the cavs/lebron. Getting the al harringtons and antwoine jammison’s of the world are not going to win championships and will not help keep Melo in Denver. I was really hoping that they could make a big move by trading some combination of Smith/Kmart/Graham and get a real player. I am a big fan of all 3 of those guys but if we are honest the nuggets aren’t winning with the team we have now.

It sure seems like Denver signed Harrington because he was the best player still available which smacked of a “Look at what we did Carmelo!” desperation. Harrington’s presence will not keep Melo in Denver long term, in fact with their limited assets it might have the opposite effect. I believe a big reason why LeBron left Cleveland was they built their team to win immediately and had no assets to help build for the future. Melo could very well see the same type of landscape in Denver when it is his turn to opt out.

Brian: I guess my only question on this thrashing and continued discontent of the signing of Harrington, is what do u propose the Nuggets do? Roll over and play dead? Not use their mid-level exception? They needed a SCORING forward because Kenyon just doesnt cut it night in and night out. They have no guarantee of Carmelo resigning and no guarantee of Nene signing an extension next year.

In the NBA with guaranteed salaries and limited assets it is much better to do nothing than the wrong thing. Harrington is going to tie up a good chunk of money for the next three to five seasons (there are still conflicting reports as to whether or not the final two years are guaranteed or not). Yes, he is a good player and he can help Denver score. However, scoring is not the problem for Denver. For much of the season they were in the top two or three teams in the league in offensive efficiency and that was with Kenyon Martin starting at power forward.

Basketball is not about putting the most absolutely talented players together, you need that talent to fit together. Considering we have no idea how restrictive the new CBA will be and that Denver needs some big bodies who can defend and rebound signing Harrington to a sizeable deal could be very prohibitive in the future.

Should Denver have done nothing? Yes, that is the lesson we have seen from teams like Portland, San Antonio and now Oklahoma City. You do not use your assets just because you can. Doing so can lock you in a horrific situation. Just look at the Knicks. They maxed out every asset they could with desperate move after desperate move and it took three seasons to tear things down and even now the only thing they have to show for all the angst and losing is Amare Stoudemire.

The ultimate goal of any team should be to win a championship. Sadly, most teams worry more about selling tickets and avoiding any kind of rebuilding.

mattmo21: Jeremy, the same guy who was creaming over the idea of getting Beasley is bitching about picking up a proven NBA player in Al Harrington. This is a great move, Al gives us options he can start but he is used to being a bench player. Worst case scenario, he backs up Kenyon upon his return. Kenyon is a great defender while Al can light it up from ANYWHERE on the floor. Remember when he roasted the Nuggs for 41 points last season?

My interest in Beasley was as an asset that Denver could have acquired for virtually nothing. Miami was able to trade him to Minnesota for two second round picks because they were desperate. The Nuggets could have flipped Beasley to the Wolves for much more, at least a first round pick and a $5 million trade exception to that as well. Tell me you would not feel better about the Nuggets if they had pulled a first round pick and possibly more out of Kleiza’s move to Toronto?

So just to set the record straight, I cream over the idea of hoarding assets and using every last arrow in the quiver to do so over head case underachievers. Although, if I had to choose between Harrington and Beasley, they come at roughly the same price tag and Beasley is younger and will be more efficient on offense.

q: There is not a center out there that we could have got. Not to mention we have to protect our self if Kenyon not being able to play ever again.

I will let some other readers toss out their ideas first:

Colin: If we can just pull in Amundson, who I believe hasn’t signed yet and I heard he visited so he is clearly interested, then we would have a hell of a team. The guy plays D and pushes people around.

Steven: A big who could be interesting is Dampier. He provides major beef, if nothing else but fortunately he does provide other things, like rebounding and good post defense. Maybe he gets offered something above the veteran minimum, probably? It’s not he can’t be a valuable matchup at times.

q: Jeremy you have yet to say who else you would have prefer we got? dampier? maybe Shaq however I don’t think we stand a chance of him coming to denver.

avp: I think that they need to go out and get more better players too surround Melo like maybe get Shaq,Matt Barnes or even Shannon Brown.

Cougflank: please please please dont sign shaq.

As we all know Denver has done a great job of pulling rotation players out of the free agency bargain bin in August. I do not know if it was the fear of Melo walking after next season or the desire to keep up with the Jonses and respond to moves by the competition, whatever the reason, they splurged for talent this summer. Dampier would be a huge rebounder who should he be bought out, which is a certainty as he is not worth the $13 million he is slated to make this season, could possibly be brought in on the cheap to fill the lane for 14 or 20 minutes a night. Josh Boone is another cheap big who can rebound and defend who is still available. Ultimately, I like the idea of adding local boy Amundson as a dirty work power forward who can slide over to center against smaller lineups. In addition to Lou a center I have thought is a great bargain the past couple of seasons is Aaron Gray. He has reportedly resigned with the Hornets, but he could have been pried away by a small increase from the minimum with the Hornets one of the teams on the edge of the luxury tax line. Denver could have added Amundson, Gray and Boone for roughly the same cost of Harrington and addressed actual needs. I know none of them will ever score 41 points in a single game, but they would have added depth, rebounding, defense and helped Denver match up better with some of the big front lines they will be facing throughout the season and playoffs.

Shaq is intriguing because of his size and track record, but he is a terrible pick and roll defender and is a big plug on offense. Add in the cost it would take to get him and I would take my troika of cheaper role players.

NE Nugs Fan: There was a period last year when Shelden Williams was getting significant minutes with the Celtics (because of injuries), and the Celtic announcers were saying things like, “It’s going to be hard to keep him out of the lineup when everyone’s healthy”. In other words, he looked good. Then he lost his minutes and he was forgotten.

I wanted a center, but at least Williams is a rebounder and defender. He doesn’t have the height I want, but he has a ridiculous wingspan, which helps. But, as Jeremy says, he’ll be sitting on the end of the bench anyway. So I guess it doesn’t matter.

Williams is another player I thought was a bargain for what he contributed and his signing was more along the lines of what Denver has traditionally done. He is not a true center although as NE Nugs Fan points out, he is long and can block shots and rebound. As long as Kenyon is out he will be the defensive counterpart at power forward to Al Harrington. I like the signing and believe Williams will help Denver this season.

runningdonut: Nuggets paid dearly for devoiding themselves of all assets, forcing themselves out of the draft and having a thin team with a bloated payroll and nothing of any trade value.

Runningdonut is exactly right. Denver’s penny pinching ways has really hurt them as they have given away first round picks to Memphis and Oklahoma City to dump salary. Instead of adding cheap talent, they have been forced to cut corners and as a result lack depth. The perfect example of a move that was meant to save money was the sale of their second round pick in the 2009 draft. Denver was paid $2.5 million by Houston for that selection. Imagine the Nuggets did not sell that pick and drafted the man everyone was calling for, DeJuan Blair. With Blair in the fold there would be no need to sign a player like Shelden Williams and the need to sign Al Harrington would not be so dire. Denver could pass on a big ticket free agent like Harrington and save much more money than the $2.5 million they booked by selling the pick. You cannot put a price on nabbing a steal in the second round, but Denver did and ultimately they may have lost more than money.

GZ: Chris Paul has mentioned Orlando, New York, and LA (Lakers) as his preferred trade destinations. However, since the Hornets without Paul would be in a definite rebuilding mode around Thornton and Collison, they would almost certainly require Paul’s new team to absorb Emeka Okafor’s horrific contract ($11.5 million, 4 years) as part of the deal. It’s hard to see how any of those teams achieves this while sending enough young talent or expiring contracts back to NOLA to make the salaries balance. I could go further in depth explaining why I think none of these three teams is a good match for CP3+1, but I want to get to my main thought: how about the Nuggets as a potential trade partner? (Trade idea by GZ)

Paul emerged from a meeting with the Hornets’ brass today claiming he wants to be in New Orleans and he is excited to see what they do to build a winner. Read between the lines and what I hear is, I do not want to destroy my trade value and I know the best way to get a trade is to work with the Hornets to keep my value as high as possible.

I will say that I am fully on board with pulling out all the stops to acquire Paul. It would be very difficult to get over his flopping and constant complaining lobbying. The Nuggets have a nice tandem of point guards in Chauncey and Lawson. The sad truth is Chauncey, despite his offseason training regimen, has run down considerably the previous two seasons and it is only going to get worse as he ages. Lawson is a very good young player, but he is not Paul.

Most people want to dump their expiring contracts and current starting point guard on New Orleans in an attempt to steal Paul away. In my mind if the Hornets do trade Paul part of the reason why will be their faith in Darren Collison. Even though they are trading their star point guard, I doubt they will be looking for another starting caliber point guard in return because it would simply create a log jam with Collison already on board.

Secondly, as everyone has pointed out to land Paul you will have to take back their other bad contracts. That means acquiring Emeka Okafor’s four years and $50 some million and James Posey’s two years and $13 million. Peja Stojakovic is in the final year of his mammoth deal so I do not think he needs to be part of the equation.

As I said above, New Orleans has to be able to tell their fans they acquired some talent in addition to salary relief. Because of that a combo of Kenyon Martin’s expiring deal, J.R. Smith’s expiring contract, and still sizeable upside, Denver would not have a competitive offer. Plus the Hornets have no need for Chauncey Billups who would just be another expiring deal with his team option for 2011-12. Chauncey has more value elsewhere.

With those parameters, here is my proposal. Take a second to soak it up, it is a four team deal that I believe makes sense for all four teams.

Sadly, Denver must part with Nene because New Orleans needs talent to sell the deal. Nene is a talented big who still has room for improvement. He could be a great pick and roll partner for Collison and would give the Hornets a solid big they could pair with David West. J.R. Smith was run out of town four years ago, but that regime is gone and he could start over fresh with a more mature attitude and more mature game. Plus he still has a load of potential to fulfill. To top things off for the Hornets they avoid taking on a starting point guard in Billups creating a logjam with Collison. Chauncey goes to Charlotte, to be reunited with Larry Brown on a veteran team looking to improve on their first playoff appearance in franchise history. I hate parting with Chauncey. He is the hometown hero who led Denver to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 20 years. However, he has taken Denver as far as he can and Paul is a player who could push Denver into the upper echelon of the west for the next five to seven years. With Billups heading to Charlotte New Orleans gets Dampier’s non-guaranteed $13 million contract that they can wipe off the books immediately putting them in a much better financial position.

The bad news is Denver must part with Nene. The good news is they have Kenyon Martin’s expiring contract and Ty Lawson, who is not superfluous with Paul in town, to work with. Denver has sought after Jeff Foster for years now and with Nene gone they need an offensive big man who can rebound. Indiana was rumored to be interested in Ty Lawson prior to the 2010 draft. Martin replaces Foster’s toughness and the Pacers get their point guard of the present and future. Murphy has value as Jim O’Brien loves his three point ability, but by all accounts he is not in their future plans.

The Nuggets come out of these trades a different and improved team. Okafor provides the interior muscle and rebounding they have been seeking, Posey can be a defender and three point shooter off the bench, Murphy gives them a big man who can stretch the defense while not losing out on rebounding and when paired with Okafor the Nuggets should be set on the defensive glass. Foster is an energy guy who can scrap and hit the glass as well. Denver might have to throw in some cash and a draft pick, but for an opportunity like this I think Kroenke gives it the green light.

This is all conjecture based on hearsay and rumors, but it sure is fun to talk about.

GZ: Finally, one depressing thought I had about this whole CP3 business: Does it seem foreboding to anyone else that he says he wants to team up with another star, specifically Melo, but did not include Denver on his list of preferred destinations? After the back-room dealings that went on between Wade-Lebron-Bosh leading up to free agency this summer, I wonder if CP3 already knows something we don’t- that Melo has already made up his mind not to resign with the Nuggets?

Thanks for bringing us all back down to earth GZ.

That does it for our first comment bag. Thanks for the comments. I could not list all the quality thoughts that were expressed and I hope everyone continues to chime in.

  • Colby

    Is there any way that the nuggets could still sign one more big man? Maybe Amundson or Earl Barron?

  • http://espn.com Chris

    why won’t the nuggets just sign T-mac, with jr and affallo coming of the bench thats a great combo, the nuggets don’t have any thing to loose.

  • Frontrange

    Why complicate matters in the Paul trade proposal . .

    Two team trade of Lawson / Nene / Martin / Karl for Paul / Okafor / Posey / Songalia. If need be, offer a pick.

    Let NO figure out what do with Lawson, who clearly has plenty of market value in the NBA. (hehe, trade him to MN for a pick, I think they need a PG)

    NO get’s cap relief and the best non-Melo value Denver has to offer.

    We are still thin upfront, but Billups can play the two w/Paul and the one to give him a rest. Chauncy played alongside Lawson last season ocassionally. Also, the likelihood would be K-mart would be bought out and we could resign him for the stretch run when he get’s healthy.

  • Kyle

    Thank You Jeremy

  • ParkHillNative

    Thank you for saying this:

    “I am tired of the small handful of teams winning titles year in and year out. I am sick of seeing the Lakers and Spurs and Celtics win every season.”

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. As far as I’m concerned, this is the biggest thing wrong with the NBA. One more time seeing the ******* Lakers winning the Finals, and I might be done watching the NBA forever.

    I have to say, though, I don’t share your hope that this will cease when Kobe Bryant stops playing. I saw a statistic a while back saying that the Lakers were $21.4 Million over the salary cap last season. And I’d be willing to bet, they probably still made a healthy profit. How much were the Nuggets over the cap? How much money did the Nuggets lose this season?

    Once Bryant is retired, the Lakers will just spend another ridiculous amount of money and purchase another All-Star team and continue dominating. It’s how the league is set up. Stern is on record saying that he wants it that way.

    I wish I liked watching football more. The NFL puts a premium on parity, and look at what we saw back in February: The once lowly New Orleans Saints, who had been one of the small handful of teams left never to go to the Super Bowl, won it all. A great, great “feel-good” story. Who didn’t love seeing all those long-suffering fans celebrating on Bourbon Street?

    Well, David Stern probably didn’t love it. He probably watched that and thought “This is disgraceful. The Super Bowl should just be the Steelers vs. the Cowboys, every single year. No other teams besides the Steelers and Cowboys should ever win championships.”

    I guess I hope the new CBA puts in a hard salary cap and negates some of the hugely unfair advantage the Lakers enjoy. But something tells me that it probably won’t work out that way.

  • asdqqq

    Hey Jeremy, thanks for taking the time to respond to our comments. I still don’t agree with your take on Harrington because I think it does make this team significantly better now without much potential for harming the team down the road. While I agree that doing nothing is better than doing something wrong (like the Kenyon contract, which was never a good idea), this doesn’t look wrong to me, it looks better than nothing. And I don’t see any of the big men possibilities listed here as significantly better than Sheldon Williams, so I’m not seeing much of an opportunity cost. Heck, if we were thinking about giving Haslem 5 years of fully guaranteed MLE or Jermaine O’Neal a deal approaching the one Harrington got, I’d much prefer Harrington to those options, so I’m glad they fell through. But I appreciate that you disagree. I just hope you are wrong.

    Also, since the initial confusion, I haven’t seen any report that the last two years are fully guaranteed. Both ESPN and the Denver Post have reported the nonguaranteed numbers several times. I think we can treat that as fact now.

  • Colby

    Does anyone know if unsigned draft picks become free agents right away? If they do, is there any way that the Nuggets could pick up Jarvis Vanardo or Dasean Butler from the Heat?

  • asdqqq

    Colby,
    Second round draft picks become free agents on September 6th unless they are tendered a contract offer from the team that drafted them. Unlike a lot of European prospects, neither Varnado or Butler would likely reject such an offer, even if it were the minimum, so we should know then whether Miami is going to keep them or not. (If a player rejects the contract offer, then the team gets to keep their rights).

  • cougflank

    The nuggets need to make this trade:

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=2at2axl

  • Alex

    What do you guys think about using the Bi-annual exception on Shaq? I know he’s Shaq and he’s old, but I can’t help but think that it would be better to give him minutes than it would be to give someone like Malik Allen (or equivalent) the minutes he had last year.