Les Shapiro and Tom Nalen of ESPN Denver 102.3 & 105.5 FM (check their audio archive here and find them on Twitter here) had a great interview with Nuggets Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri after Denver chose to stand pat at the NBA trade deadline. Below are some key takeaways from the interview, but you should definitely also listen to it in its entirety here.
Masai Ujiri, on why the Nuggets didn’t make any moves:
I think we like our team, and at some point in time – and we thought it was this time – where we have to kind of let this thing sit and be patient and let them grow and play and throw them in it like we’ve done. If there’s nothing that’s going to come and make a significant difference on your team and taking you to another level, and we feel like we ought to give these guys a chance. You can’t continue making changes. We’re not a contending team, we don’t think. We’re a growing team that could grow into that eventually. And we feel it’s a good time for us to throw these guys out there and let’s see how they finish it up.
On other teams’ interest in Timofey Mozgov:
Phones were ringing. Obviously there’s interest for him. He’s a legit center in the league, and can start on some teams, but we feel like we haven’t seen the last of Mozgov. And explaining that is, we don’t know how good Mozgov can be. So we feel like we’ll leave it till the end of the year. He’s a restricted free agent, and then we figure him out then. And we don’t know which way it would go. So we felt comfortable with that, we didn’t feel there was anything where we needed to make a move for him that would come and affect our team for now or in the future. So we held onto the big fella.
On what the Nuggets were looking for to improve, if they could get it:
I think now the only thing we thought about, and we feel like we’ve gotten better, obviously was shooting. Could we have added a shooter somewhere? And we tried a couple options. But we didn’t want to disrupt our teeam because we need to know who these guys are, and we need to know what these guys can do. Our shooting is getting better. We knew that these guys started slow. And we feel like it’ll get better. And these guys need to learn how to do it when the situation is tough and hard. So yeah, we tried, you know? But it didn’t work out. It’s something that we feel that if it comes to that we can identify in the off season. And we feel very comfortable standing pat.
On whether the Nuggets can compete for a Westerrn Conference title this year:
Honestly guys, we have a growing team. Are we contenders for the Western Conference title, or an NBA title? I don’t know, you know, I don’t see it. We have to have a lot of luck go our way. The third youngest team in the NBA, they have to grow up a lot. So I think they’ll keep growing and keep playing better and getting more used to each other. This thing is not buiilt in one day. And we understand that. Do we have a chance in the future to contend for that? I can sit here and say hey, we want to win. That’s what we want to do in this organization. And we’re going to do everything possible to build this team into a contender. But I don’t know if I can say now that we’ll be doing that. The team is a little bit young to ask for that.
There is much more to the interview, including discussion of whether Denver needs stars and Iguodala’s role on the team, so again, please head to ESPN Denver and give the entire thing a listen.
(h/t @MikanDrillMaster, who sent me the link)