It’s early in the Denver Nuggets 2011-2012 season, but the story so far has no doubt been the inspiring double overtime win against the departed Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers doesn’t feature the same hype and excitement surrounding the Knicks contest, but it’s no less symbolic for Nuggets fans witnessing Chauncey Billups’ first return to the Pepsi Center since the infamous trade marking the end of the Melo era.
I have to admit, I never wanted Chauncey Billups traded. It wasn’t until very late in the Melodrama that I ultimately accepted the fact Denver’s native son had to be sacrificed in order to ensure a viable post-Carmelo future.
Chauncey’s arrival in 2008 validated the Carmelo Anthony era. After years of unsuccessfully building around a budding young star, Billups was the piece that completed the Nuggets’ transition from first-round fodder to a legitimate contender in western conference. I strongly believe the 2009 and 2010 seasons were the best chances Denver has ever had at a championship. Chauncey Billups’ storybook return home was probably the biggest factor in that transformation.
In the end, Melo and the Nuggets grew apart before their time came. Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri were forced to make the difficult but necessary decision to trade Billups and move forward with a youth movement centered around Gallo and Ty Lawson. Looking back, it wasn’t the fitting end to Chauncey’s career Nuggets fans desperately wanted; but it was the best move for a franchise stuck between a rock and a hard place with a star player who wanted out.
I strongly believe the Clippers are on the right path to becoming a force in the western conference. Chris Paul is in the same class as Lebron James and Kevin Durant as transcendent players capable of changing N.B.A. franchise fortunes overnight. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan compose the kind of athletic frontcourt that could give the Nuggets’ energetic style a real challenge.
I wish Chauncey Billups the best in his N.B.A. future 63 out of 66 games in this lockout-shortened season — the exceptions being tonight and February 2nd and 22nd in Los Angeles.
Thank you Chauncey.
Chauncey Billups belongs to Denver
Revisit Jeremy’s fantastic article on Chauncey Billups’ legacy in Colorado.
Billups and Pride
Our ESPN TrueHoop affiliate Clipperblog debates Chauncey’s future in the NBA
Hornets actively shopping Kaman
ESPN: Kaman is benched till the Hornets find a trade partner for him. Would the Nuggets be interested? I doubt it, Denver has no trade exceptions large enough to absorb Kaman’s $14mil expiring contract and would have to part with Miller, Harrington, or Birdman to make salaries work. The logistics of trading for him make Denver a longshot at best, and I doubt his declining athleticism and offensive game would be a good fit in Denver’s fast paced style of play.
Billups has reached out to Kenyon Martin
Chauncey is recruiting free agent Kenyon Martin to the Los Angeles Clippers. Martin is also being pursued by the Heat, Spurs, Knicks and Hawks. For anyone wondering, the chances Martin returns to Denver are virtually nil and I’d be surprised if either side is remotely interested in a reunion, but stranger things have happened.