3-on-3: The summer of one

The latest edition of our ongoing 3-on-3 series centers around one — one player that intrigues each of our writers in three different areas of the game. With hardly any roster space left for free agents, a serious need for star power and a Summer League team boasting with young talent, the fact remains: The Nuggets could certainly use an adjustment or two. Though we aren’t general managers and don’t control the fluidity of the roster, we can at least point out several players that we feel would benefit the Nuggets in some fashion — which is exactly what we aim to do, 3-on-3 style.

1. Although the roster is essentially full, if you could chose, who is the one available free agent you want to see the Nuggets sign? (2012 free agent list)

Charlie: Before I answer the question, I should say that I’m fine with the Nuggets sitting out free agency and I suspect they will. This crop of free agents just isn’t very good and you need only look at the Dallas Mavericks for proof. They sacrificed their aging championship core to maximize cap space this summer and needless to say, it hasn’t paid off. The Mavs now find themselves in the unenviable position of having to fill out their roster by overspending in a market where Gerald Wallace got $40 million guaranteed. There’s simply no reason the Nuggets shouldn’t keep their flexibility intact so they can spend at a later date when team needs will become a little more clear. That being said, I’m intrigued by taking a flier on the recently amnestied Elton Brand. Denver would likely have to amnesty Birdman or Harrington to create the requisite room, but they have more than enough depth to do so. Brand’s polish in the post is a great compliment to Faried and something sorely lacking in the rest of the Nuggets bigs. I don’t expect it to happen, but that would be an opportunity with little to no risk and a lot of potential reward.

Jeremy: I am going to carry my philosophy of the draft into this question. They should look for players with potential. I narrowed my list down to Anthony Randolph, who did not receive a qualifying offer from Minnesota, or Gerald Green. I have always been a sucker for Randolph’s athleticism and potential. If you are honest with yourself you’ll admit to being intrigued by a McGee/Randolph front court; however, I have to give the nod to Gerald Green. Despite the glut of wings on the roster I think Denver needs a shooter to come off the bench behind Afflalo. Green would thrive in Denver’s high octane system, plus, he drilled almost 40 percent of his threes last season. More importantly, he proved he has grown from a crazy athlete into a legitimate basketball player.

Kalen: While I was tempted to go with a smart, veteran locker room presence — think Grant Hill, Anthony Tolliver or Eduardo Najera — who could mentor Denver’s young core and act as a stabilizing force when adversity strikes, I have to settle on Chris Kaman. Even with three 7-footers, the Nuggets front court situation is still shaky. I like having big bodies just as much as the next guy but fans are fooling themselves if they think Koufos and Mozgov are going to save the day come playoff time. Having a skilled, veteran 7-footer who can actually play at a high level would prove invaluable for such a young squad. This would also allow Harrington to move back to his natural position at small forward, therefore decreasing the amount of “small ball” to be played in the process. Additionally, Kaman is a full-blown redneck who would likely find comfort (shooting something?) in the Rocky Mountains, which he has yet to have had in his NBA career.

2. Who is the one player you’d like to see the Nugget trade for?

Charlie: This is another difficult one to answer, because it just so happens the one thing the Nuggets lack (a star) is by far the riskiest and most difficult to acquire. Denver is not a legitimate destination for top free agents, while the second tier guys they could trade for don’t come without serious flaws or financial risk. For that reason, I’d love to see the Nuggets stay young and developmental rather than trying to patch up their weaknesses with guys who don’t significantly move the talent needle. Derrick Williams, the former No. 2 pick of the Timberwolves, is pretty clearly on his way out of Minnesota and extremely likely to see his declining trade value plummet further. The Wolves are hard after cap space and while taking on another project like Williams doesn’t help the Nuggets now, it’s the type of long-term gamble Denver must be willing to take.

Jeremy: I have tried to limit my options to players who are realistically available and while Dwight Howard is available, realistically that scenario is not even worth discussing. With that in mind, I would love to see Andre Iguodala in a Nuggets uniform playing shooting guard. Iguodala makes plays at both ends of the court and has quietly improved his 3-point shooting throughout his career (39.4 percent last season). A package including Afflalo, Stone, Chandler and Mozgov or Koufos should at least get Philly’s attention.

Kalen: Josh Smith. Plain and simple. This guy has been on Nuggets Nation’s radar forever so it’s about time he officially suits up in blue and yellow. He’s one of the most underrated (versatile, athletic, defensive) players in the league who’s been on the verge of making the All-Star team the last several years. While he’s played power forward in Atlanta his true position is at the three. He’s been very vocal about wanting a fresh start and at only 26, Denver is the absolute perfect place for him to land considering he could be the missing piece to a blossoming young core. Because he’s in the last year of his contract the Hawks can’t expect a king’s ransom for his services; therefore, something as simple as Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler alone might seal the deal. Once in a Nuggets uniform it’s almost a guarantee Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke would be able to re-sign him given how well they’ve done in recent contract negotiations.

3. Who is the one player you want to see excel most at Summer League?

Charlie: Without a doubt, I think this is the summer of Jordan Hamilton. Despite a less than stellar rookie year, Hamilton showed glimpses of a well-rounded offensive game. With Rudy Fernandez gone and Al Harrington coming off yet another major surgery, he’ll have the opportunity to see minutes both on the wing and in the backcourt with the likes of Miller and Lawson. I have no doubt Hamilton will help the Nuggets next season if he improves his focus and shows he does not need the ball in order to be effective. Hamilton has been a natural scorer his whole career, but I think he needs to get quicker and show the coaches he can fill a variety of roles on both ends of the floor. Hamilton’s ability to shoot, get to the basket and rebound makes him the most intriguing prospect on the Summer League squad and I have a lot of confidence he’ll make the most of his opportunity next week.

Jeremy: That is like asking me to pick which of my kids I want to see in heaven. Faried already has already established himself as the starting power forward. I really want Stone to succeed, but he is blocked by Lawson and Miller. I desperately want to see Quincy Miller prove that he was the steal of the draft, but he will not see the court much this season regardless of how well he plays in Vegas. That leaves Jordan Hamilton as the player with the best mix of potential to blow up and actually earn playing time with the Nuggets this season so I am going to choose him.

Kalen: Jordan Hamilton as a rotational player next season already seems to be a foregone conclusion — and for good reasons. He should be better than everyone aside from Faried. In other words, I don’t want him to play well, I expect him to play well. The guy who needs a convincing performance the most is without question, Evan Fournier. While fans have had the chance to see American-born players like Miller, Hamilton, Faried and even Stone in live, full-length game action, Fournier has been much more difficult to track. This will probably be the first opportunity for many fans to see the guy Ujiri chose over Perry Jones, Jared Sullinger and John Jenkins up close and personal. If he struggles the pessimism will only perpetuate. While it’s unfair to expect a dominating performance, it will be crucial for Fournier to at least hold his own and show glimpses of what made him such a high selection in the Draft. In theory, if he’s been playing against full-grown men since he was 16 then he should be able to handle Summer League.

  • http://yahoo mile high

    Don’t know what to expect about Fournier because I havn’t seen him play and there is not much to read about him as he’s under most people’s radar. However, I think this Summer League is as much about the true Fournier as it is about the true Masai. After all, it is Masai who gambled on drafting Fournier over all the others, not Fournier.

  • Another Aus Nugz Fan

    Great stuff guys, as always. Big year for JHam no question, by all accounts he’s been trading the house an is the best shape of his young career. Very excited to see all the new guys an chu chu get some run as well. It was being discussed over on Denver stiffs the other day an I tend to agree, the one player I would love to see us pursue would be Al Horford. He would start at the 4 with Faried still getting heavy minutes off the bench, with McGee on board, that is one dynamic front court! Not sure what it would take to get done, chandler, Al, Moz. Saying that I am loving the commitment and cohesiveness from guys like Gallo Ty Ham Wil that are already back in the gym. Looking forward to the McGee signing( it’s happening!) just hope it’s reasonable, 9-10 mil would be fine by me.
    Go Nugs!

    • Another Aus Nugz Fan

      JHam has been training the house down***

  • Gary

    My bet is that Fournier will pout (Frenchman) and refuse to play Summer League unless offered a roster spot. But if he does play, he’d better be better than Hamilton, or Ujuri kissing Karl’s ass cost the Nuggets a better player

  • George

    Great article guys. I think the trade the Nuggets should make would be Josh Smith. Depending on how J. Ham shows in summer league and at the beginning of the season you might even be able to see a bundle deal of Chandler & Gallo (plus others) for J. Smith & Al Horford. That would allow us to carve out some good players who would be riding pine here and shorten our bench (a bit) in the process. This would give us a great rotation of Manimal, Horford, and McGeezy; and the “go-to” scorer in crunch time in J. Smith. I think we have more than enough assets to make it happen, and it would be (at least in my meaningless opinion) a direction that the Nuggets could realistically head in.

    • Ryan

      I wouldn’t trade both Chandler and Gallo, we would then have to take back an awful contract from the Hawks to make the finances work out…

  • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

    I like the idea of Brand, Hill or Tolliver joining the Nuggets, Brand was one of my finalists.

    For Nuggets fans hoping to see Evan Fournier in summer league, he has one year left on his contract in France and typically players under contract overseas are not allowed to play in summer league by the team that holds their rights. He would probably have to have his buyout finalized and be under contract by Denver for the upcoming season to appear, which I believe is unlikely. I suspect the plan is for him to finish out his contact and come over for 2013-14.

  • http://roundballminingcompany.com Mark from Charlotte

    I like Brand in a nuggets uniform because of his big body and he can score under the basket.

  • asdqqq

    1. OJ Mayo or Courtney Lee. I think SG is the weakest position on the roster. I see Hamilton as more of a 3 than a 2 right now; I’m not sure he can regularly defend SGs. So Afflalo is really the only 2 if Fournier doesn’t come over this year. These guys can shoot and defend.

    2. Tyreke Evans. I still see star potential in this guy if he gets into the right situation, and what we need is a star. Most teams aren’t going to trade young players still under team control if they have any star potential, but Sacramento might be the exception. If Sacramento can be talked into trading him for something like Chandler and Mosgov, it’d really clean up the balance on this roster while giving us a long look at whether Evans can be a star on this team.

    3. The guy I’m most interested in seeing is Fournier, but the guy I hope dominates is Faried. I can’t see this team turning into something special unless Faried develops into an all star PF. There is no reason Faried can’t be at least as good as Blake Griffin. If that is going to happen, he should dominate the summer league. He should look as good as Blake Griffin would if he were playing in the summer league this year.

    • Ryan

      I don’t think Faried will even be an All-Star PF, he doesn’t really have the offensive skills to do so. I see him becoming an elite rebounder and (hopefully) a better on-ball defender. He won’t be the key to the Nuggets winning a championship, but he should be an important piece.

  • Andrew

    Derrick Williams, Iguodala, Josh Smith – Sure.

    Randolph, Kaman – No thanks.

    Brand – Not sure. He really seems to have declined these last few year. Not sure why.

    Assuming, JHam or one of the other guys can step up and be the long ball shooter and defender needed, then the biggest piece Nuggs need from outside the organization is a big PF that can defend the post and maybe get a few post buckets. I know, easier said then done, but that’s what Nuggs need.

  • Cory

    I thought the same about Brand when he got amnestied, we need a low post prescence, if just a little. And the mentioned trades above with the pieces we would be giving away the Nuggets could get Iggy and J-Smooth. Iggy-“A package including Afflalo, Stone, Chandler and Mozgov or Koufos should at least get Philly’s attention.”
    Josh Smith- “something as simple as Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler alone might seal the deal.” We have enoough depth to get rid of players due the draft we just had, although we would be giving up experience, but the Nuggets would definitely be getting better.

    • Cory

      we would have some crazy good line-up on the floor, tight at center tho nobody worthy of time after koufus and im not so sure of him nowadays.

  • Aaron

    I’d Love To See Quincy Miller Do Well in The Summer League, Pretty Much Because This Guy Was The Number #1 Prospect Coming Out Of Highschool, Was Also Big 12 Freshman Of The Year Just Arte He Tore His ACL. if He Does Succeed In The Summer League He Should Get a Spot on The Roster, An That’s When Miller Has a Chance To Go Back The The Number 1 Overall Prospect Time Player Again.

    Id Love To See Denver Trade For Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford, Or O.J. Mayo.
    if We Got Smith By Trading Just Say Chandler, Afflalo, And Mozgov And Maybe a Future 1st Round Pick, Just Say We Actually Did Let Smith Play The 3 We Could Let Gallo Start a The 2. We’d Have a Huge Athletic Lineup Running Run Stop. That’s Be So Kewl! Crawford Might Come Extremely Cheap. Maybe Only Needing a 2nd Round Pick With Julyan Stone. If We Pulled Of The Smith Trade He’d Fit Perfect Behind Gallo, Sense He Can Knock Down 3 Point Shot Constintly Enough. Same With Mayo, Might Have To Give Up A Little Bit More Considering He Has More Potantial. That’s Why I’d Lean More To The Crawford Trade But Both Trades Could Help Out A lot.

    Id Want Denver To Sign Courtney Lee (Just Say The Trades That I Just Listed Didn’t Work Out) And Elton Brand. Lee Would Do Exactly What Crawford And O.J. Mayo Would Do Exept Probably A lot Better But Would Come With A lot Bigger Pricetag As Well Tho. With Brand, We’d Have To Move Harrington (Which I’m All For) So Brand Could Get Some Minutes, But He Could Teach Faried So Many Savvy Moves And Technic, Which Faried is Gonna Need in The Long Run, And Also He’d Be Just As Much Money As Harrington if Not Less For More PF Style Which is What We Need Right Now.

    GK Nuggetz!

  • dynamo.joe

    1. I’ve said elsewhere on this site that the free agents worth looking at this year were Landry Fields, Ryan Anderson, and Ilyasova. And the only reason there are PF’s on the list is to prevent GK from hurting us too badly by not providing enough minutes for Faried.

    Kalen – Normally I love your stuff, but Kaman? Just awful.

    2. The correct answer here is obvious and all three of you missed it. James Harden. Did he crap the bed in the finals, yeah, kinda, but he was great in the rest of the playoffs. Can the Thunder give max/near max contracts to Durant/Westbrook/Ibaka/Harden? That seems like it would be pushing it. Does AAA + K2 = Harden? I don’t know, but the Thunder got dick all at C. K2 is probably my favorite Nugget, but Presti probably isn’t dumb enough to take Mozgov instead (but I can hope). How bout AAA + Andre + Moz?

    3. Stone or Chu Chu. In admittedly limited minutes I think Stone has been fantastic. If he could develop ANY semblance of an offensive game he could be the best player on this team. At the very least he should be able to show the coaching staff that Andre is superfluous. Chu Chu would just be a feel good story, he seems like a nice kid from the interviews.

    • Ryan

      Well, Fields, Anderson, and Ilyasova are all reportedly going to other teams, so that won’t work. I would have loved to sign Ilyasova though. Great rebounder and deadly 3 point shooter, could have played 3 or 4 depending on the lineup, would have fit the Nuggets really well

      • dynamo.joe

        I hadn’t seen anything on an Ilyasova deal, but I took the question more as “which free agents should we have pursued” rather than “who’s left we could still take”.

    • http://www.roundballminingcompany.com Jeremy

      Harden is not available. There is no way they trade him before next summer when he is an RFA.

      • dynamo.joe

        My asumption was that they would rather trade and get some asset/s than wait until he was an RFA and get nothing back. It also assumes that he is the 1 of the 4 that they would let go.

        It would also make sense to stand pat on a finals team.

        But really they should have made a play for Nash and shipped Westbrook for a real center. Greg Monroe maybe? He can do everything but block shots and Ibaka has that covered anyway.

  • Landry

    Jordan Hamilton and Kenneth are the people who must light up the summer league. Kenneth will have to guard the other teams best player at all times(he needs to get versatility) because if he can improve this aspect, we have ourselves a Rodman rather than a Carl Landry.

    Now for Jordan Hamilton I believe he must improve and prove he can consistently post-up players. Because if he can do this, we can play a reverse style offense with Andre Miller already being our most accomplished post player and both our guards playing low with bigs crashing the boards from the perimeter.

    This puts J-Ham in a place to succeed with his rebounding and put-back/ft attempts are at a premium down in the post. A good handle on the ball would be nice but if he really wants to beat out Afflalo, he must!! becoming a play-maker/scorer is what the George Karl system needs because otherwise Afflalo’s intangibles on defense will keep GK from giving playing time to the Rook in favor of Afflalo.

    And finally if I wanted a trade, it would be for J-smoove because he can run the fast-break as well as T-Law while Gallinari can’t. Additionally we need to have his and-1 ability and tough never back-down attitude if Gallo continues to flop like a fish next season.

  • Colby

    I heard that the nets are looking for someone to give them a 1st round pick for Marshon Brooks. Not sure if the Nuggets should do it, but with them having multiple 1st round picks next year I think, it could be worth at least a look.

    • Aaron

      if We Weren’t So Stacked At The SF And SG Position I’d Say Hell Yes But Not Sure if Hes Worth Giving Up a First Round Pick Just To Upgrade The Posistion a Little Bit. Just Look At Our SG’s And SF’s List. Gallinari, Chandler, Brewer, Miller, Fournier, Afflalo And Hamilton. Not Sure if Brooks is Much Better Then Any Of Those Guys. Even if We Traded a First Round Pick For Him, Would He Really Be Better Then Whoever We Had To Cut To Get Him a Spot on The Team? And Would it Be a First Round Pick Worthy Upgrade That We Need? No. Its Not. But 3 Years Ago I Would Have Taken The Offer if I Was The GM Of The Nuggets.

  • Chris

    im a nuggets fan and mcgee fan just like all of yall but this is funny.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgSYA3Gb7oI

    • YoungPep Dash

      Yes!

  • Peter

    I still can’t figure out why so many people on this site are so in love with Josh Smith. The guy is super versitile, extremely athletic and probably would be our most talented player, but…he reminds me of J.R. Smith in a 3/4 man’s body. Extremely gifted everywhere except between the ears. Do you guys really think Josh Smith is the type of player that George Karl would like? I feel like he would get benched in crunch time for Big Al and Gallo. Someone mentioned Al Horford as a possible trade. Now there’s a player who is efficient smart and still yound. That wouldn’t put us over the top, but it would give us a top 10 front court and improve our team dramatically. Would I be mad if we landed Josh Smith? Probably not, I just don’t think it would work out. He doesn’t seem to fit the Nuggets culture with this new direction we have been headed in since the Carmelo trade.

    • Kalen

      Josh Smith had some maturity problems when he first came into the league, but he’s grown up since then in a huge way. I haven’t heard of any problems with him over the last three years or so other than the fact that he just wants to win and has been frustrated with the Hawks for some of the decisions they’ve made. Cant’ blame him there.

      I wouldn’t worry about maturity. I just don’t think that’s a problem with Smith. He’s nothing like J.R smith, at all. Will he occasionally settle for a jump shot he shouldn’t? Sure. But so does LeBron James.

      • Ryan

        I like Smith’s game a lot, but he takes WAY too many jumpers/threes, not just a few occasional bad shots. If he could cut down on that, he would be an All-Star, no question.

  • Justin

    I LOVE the idea of Josh Smith in blue and yellow, but is this a true possibility or wishful thinking?

  • YoungPep Dash

    Charlie you are a genius.

    Derrick Williams!

    They wanted to trade him for nicholas Batum for gods sake. He is an absolute steal waiting to happen.

    He could replace big al for the time being with his ability to bang and stretch the floors.

    A package of mozgov plus either gallo or chandler would surely get it done. We could also take back martell Webster whose $5 million deal is not guarrenteed I believe

    Do it do it do it.

  • Kyle

    I think a straight up trade j smith for chandler would be another blockbuster steal of the century like the AI/Billups deal. Chandler has a nice game, but he doesn’t fit into the Nuggets scheme whereas Smith is a high flying big bodied guy that loves to run the court can play inside and outside, and gets a bunch of blocks from an undersized 4.

    • Call Me Miss Kim

      Doesnt work financially for starters.

      Plus you said it yourself it would be a massive steal. Trading birdman for Howard would also be a steal but remember, BOTH teams must agree to a trade

  • Guy

    After seeing these offers for Dwight Howard I can’t figure our why the Nuggets don’t make an offer. I’d offer a sign and trade with McGee and then add Chandler and a couple of picks (maybe the players just selected) to get Howard and possibly Richardson in return. What are the Nuggets protecting, 6th Place in the Western Conference??
    If we would have had Howard against the Lakers we would have won the series because Howard dominates Andrew Bynum (no more double teaming and switches).
    Even if we have Howard for only one year we’ll most likely get out of the first round of the playoffs and then anything can happen. At worst we trade Howard to the Nets next June for the very offer that’s on the table right now. The Nets have to trade to get Howard so there stuck with basicly any offer we want if they want to sign him.
    To get Howard what are the Nuggets really giving up?? They get Howard for at least one year and if he leaves they replace him with Brook Lopez and some low first round picks. There basicly trading McGee for one year of Howard and Brook Lopez. Lopez doesn’t have the upside of McGee but he’s more consistant and smarter. I’d make this trade in a heart beat. Where am I going wrong with my logic here, please tell me??
    The best part of this whole senario is that we keep most of our core players we have now. We still have Lawson, Faried, Gallo and a few others who don’t have to be moved to make the trade work. I just don’t see the downside to this. It’s time the Nuggets become a player and stop waiting for things to just happen.

    • dynamo.joe

      The mistake you made was when you didn’t say and if we get Lopez we can sit him on the bench for the rest of his career as a favor to the NBA, cuz he is horrible. I would rather have his brother, at least he brings the comedy with the sideshow bob hair.

      Also Howard would be unrestricted after this year, meaning the Nets would NOT have to give anything in trade.

      • Call Me Miss Kim

        You obviously know nothing dynamo.joe

        Lopez is not horrible. Actually has a legit post game and is a top 8 centre easily.

        Second of all, um if you haven’t realized the nets are currently in the process of taking on a lot of salary just so Mikhail prokrhov can say “f*** you luxury tax”. They can’t just sign him. We would have leverage because he wants to go there and that’s the only way he can.

        • dynamo.joe

          Lopez can score, he doesnt turnover the ball and he doesnt commit alot of fouls. That is the sum total of his positive qualities as a center.

          Defensive rebounds? Offensive rebounds? Blocks? Assists? Steals? All below average. Not for all players, just compared to other centers.

          Player 2pt% FT% TS%
          A 59.9 60.0 60.8
          B 49.4 62.5 52.7

          So just from shooting percentages it looks like player A is better than player B, right?

          You know who player A is? Kosta Koufus. Player B? Lopez.

          Scoring a lot of points while maintaining a low shooting percentage makes you a chucker. And that aint good basketball.

          Plus he broke his foot. Maybe Bill Walton and Kevin McHale are reading this blog and can tell us how well their careers went after they came back from the same injury?

          After this coming season when we rent Dwight for our run at a ring, he will be an unrestricted free agent and can sign any where he wants (assuming they have cap space/money to blow on the luxury tax). The only leverage the Nuggets would have at that point is if he demands a 5 year contract from the Nets, which would require a sign and trade. It would be stupid for him to force the Nets to gut the team he wants to go to. Not that Howard isnt stupid, we know that he is because took the option from Orlando.

          • Call Me Miss Kim

            I’m not saying you’re wrong but Lopez receives possessions in the post and koufos catches dump offs and makes put backs.

            If KK got the ball in the same spots as Lopez he would struggle to score.

            By saying what you’re saying, basically you’re implying that the entire NBA community of scouts and front offices have got it wrong and KK should be getting the max deal.

            Those stats don’t tell the full story and you know it