Excerpts from Masai Ujiri’s post-deadline interview with ESPN Denver’s Les and Nalen

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)

 

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  • Chris

    I appreciate the honesty, but Masai sounds a little /too/ honest in that last comment. I hope it’s not too much of a “wait and see” mentality in the FO right now, but I know better than to assume that much.

  • theo

    Fans should appreciate being treated like adults and taken seriously–I do. Nobody knowledgeable about the game–including the vast majority of fans here–believe the Nugs current roster can contend at this time. Seems like Ujiri has been consistent in his comments over the past few years. He sees the Nugs as a very good team that has a few players than might develop into stars and lead us into contention. If not, he’ll make moves to try to get us to that status. Standing pat and waiting to see if option number one pans out is perfectly consistent with that approach.

    I mean, I even appreciate his hesitation to say clearly, ‘yes, we’re going to be contending at some point in the intermediate future.’ Again, an honest GM treating Denver fans like adults. All of us know the major obstacles to building a consistent contender here short of blowing it up and getting top draft picks for a few years (and even then, luck is involved heavily).

    And who knows, anything can happen. If this bunch shocks the world and gets to the WCF or the Finals, all the sweeter for knowing realistically the odds were long.

    • Thomas

      I guess you are the prototype fan Masai wants…

      I am quite sure attendance will go down the tubes with this kind of FO mentality and acceptance of mediocrity. Will be impossible for this franchise to ever be taken seriously with leaders making comments like this.

      • theo

        Yeah, I probably am. I’m guessing they want fans that love the game and the Nugs and like to hear honest comments from leaders. I’m guessing attendance isn’t affected at all by his comments. In fact, I’d say he’s shrewdly expecting to make the Nuggets even cooler and better known because he’s going against the grain and telling it like it is. I like this guy a lot. Players notice when a GM isn’t full of s__t and want to play for people like that. That’s Popovich’s whole attraction–no bs, just the facts.

        • Thomas

          Sorry, that ain’t Popovich. Popovich is all about winning a championship or be in that select group – we are obviously not and never have been, unfortunately.

          Spurs management would never sign a guy like GK for 3 years and have Miller running the team. A guy like Danny Green or Leonard would never have a shot at playing 30 minutes a game under GK – unless an injury to a starter occurred (much like the dumb luck for Faried that Harrington got hurt last year).

          We are the Bucks, without the Kareem years. Players won’t come here to try to win titles with this kind of leadership and moves – sorry.

          • Native Nugget

            I disagree. Given that we are a small market I think Masai’s approach is the best possible tack. You can point to San Antonio or Oklahoma and claim they have a better approach. That’s a fair argument but in both cases those team LUCKED into draft picks that turned out to be hall of fame caliber all stars. Add that luck to Denver’s already sound system and we would be looking down from the top as well. If you’re going to criticize, you ought to at least describe how you would be playing the same hand of cards more successfully.

            • Thomas

              I would point to Houston. Star players will consider going there – at least consider while not including the Nuggets as a possible destination. Houston doesn’t renew with old GK, they don’t sign old Miller for 3 years.

              Does that mean that Houston is better than the Nuggets right now? Obviously not. But they are not asleep at the wheel, going through the motions behind the safety of a good/but not great team to satisfy fans.

            • Thomas

              We are not a small market, we just think small. Denver is a big city and the Broncos and the Avalanche have won championships.

              • Native Nugget

                I’m not sure stars are any more willing to go to Houston than
                Denver. In recent times while Houston has had a lot of cap space, they’ve fished for stars using big dollars as bait and succeeded in getting stars to the talk to them, where Denver hasn’t. But when I look back over the last ten years I don’t see any trend of stars actually signing for Houston who wouldn’t consider Denver. I think it’s a healthy question wether Denver is being realistic about the size of their market or using it as an excuse. If you feel they are hiding behind the excuse – that’s fair enough.

                Your assertion that “Houston doesn’t renew with old GK” doesn’t make sense. GK’s current overall winning percentage with the Nuggs is .612. In the entire history of the Houston franchise they haven’t had a coach with a winning percentage that high. Why wouldn’t an organization choose a coach who clearly outperforms anything they’ve ever had?

          • rxmart2

            Completely disagree on the Popp argument. If you recall, the Spurs went through about 3 years of poor exits (actually 5 if you count the last two) and not ONCE did they make a major change to their roster. They just kept adding little tweaks here and there, and stayed cap solvent to protect their assets. Masai is pretty much doing the same thing.

            The GK argument in my opinion doesn’t hold water because half our roster conists of throwaways that never performed until they came to this coaching staff.

            • Thomas

              Poor exits? In the last 5 years they made it to the western conference finals twice and to the semifinals another time.

              Again, the Spurs would never hire someone like GK, they would never have Miller running the show. They develop young talent to add to their all star core.

              We, on the other hand, have fans who think that Gallo and Ty are going to become all stars, and that somehow GK is going to outcoach someone, someday in the playoffs. My oh my, wishful thinking.

              • rxmart2

                2008 – Lost in 5 in the WCF as the 3 seed

                2009 – They lost as the 3 seed in the first round to Dallas.

                2010 – Got SWEPT by the 3 seed in the second round.

                2011 – Lost in the first round as the #1 seed in six games

                2012 – Lost in the WCF, again as the #1 seed

                They’ve ran well below regular season expectation, being upset 3 of the last 5 years on their way out. They also went 3 consecutive years of their win total decreasing and 3 out of 4 years losing in the first round.

                That kind of performance would have Denver fans clamoring for Masai/Karl’s head like nobody’s business. Yet Buford didn’t panic–he stayed the course and made minor additions. Masai should do the same in my opinion.

            • Fed up Nug

              You realize that in the last 5 years Pop has won more than twice as many playoff series as Karl has in the last 8. You think posting the spurs recent playoff record somehow makes Karl look good? Is this really what it’s come to?

          • theo

            No, that is Pop. Wake up. The Spurs got lucky with lottery picks, have had two of the top ten players of all time under Pop, a guy who is an MVP candidate this year, and an all time 6th man. Again, please, wake up and understand the NBA.

  • markos

    i can say i agree with everything said , i mean yes this team is young

    KK is 24

    Faried is 23

    Gallinari is 24

    Lawson is 25

    Mcgee is 25

    Randolph is 23

    Igudala is 29

    Hamilton is 22

    Brewer is 27

  • Ernie

    What I don’t understand is if we have a young non-contending team and he wants them to grow together that he didn’t trade Andre Miller. I would think a growing team would not benefit from having a bitter veteran that doesn’t want his current role. Force Karl’s hand to play either Stone or Hamilton or some traded for young PG. And more importantly, allow them to play fast for 48 minutes.

  • GK4Prez

    We want our fans to continue to be happy with a mediocre product and continue to poor good hard earned money into it is the gist of what he is said.

    If you ain’t in it to win it, why be in it?

    • Thomas

      Agree. It makes no sense and at this point it’s offensive to the fans intelligence.

      I honestly don’t hold Masai and Kroenke in the regard most fans do and these comments further cement my views. What are they doing here, watching grass grow and expect us to do the same?

      No wonder he signed GK for 3 years.

    • mike

      Your in it to cultivate a team from a 50 win team to hopefully get an upgrade or two (especially from a big) that ends up with a 55-60 win team. There are 20 teams in this league that are unquestionably worse than the Nugs and they can make significant improvements at 2 of the 3 main big man positions. The team isn’t a championship caliber one as currently constituted. If you think otherwise then you don’t really understand the NBA… And the truth is in most years only 3-4 teams have more than a 5% shot at the championship. This isn’t that phase for the nuggies. With an upgrade or two…

      • theo

        Thanks for the intelligent take and response. Nice.

      • Ban Johnson

        I played basketball competitively. I’ve been following the NBA religiously for at least 25 years.

        And I think this team can contend as constituted.

        But probably not this year…

        Look at the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons. That team didn’t have a superstar, but they did 1 thing really well — defense — and 1 thing well enough — offense. I think the Nuggets have similar potential..but the reverse: overwhelming on offense and above average on defense, all with the same top 9 guys they have now.

        You don’t need a great guy if you have enough very good ones.

        • theo

          Hope your cool take on the Nugs turns out to be true. Still, Detroit had multiple all stars and a defensive player of the year on that team.

          Can you name a team with a decent defense without all star caliber players like the Nugs that simply out ran and out shot their way to a title, or even serious contention?

          • Ban Johnson

            Ben Wallace was the only all-star on that team that year. Billups and Hamilton became all-stars at some point later, I think. RWallace may have made 1 or 2 all-star teams over his underachieving career.

            Look, I’m depending on internal improvement. Including, most crucially, from Javale McGee. Like it or not, Javale is the x-factor that can make this team really special.

        • Thomas

          Look, there is no way this team with GK can contend – regardless of slight player improvements or minor upgrades. Even Masai seems to be saying that.

          Have you not learned anything about GK coached teams in the last 7 or so years in Denver?

      • Thomas

        “Your in it to cultivate…”

        We’ve got a winner!

  • GK4Prez

    pour

  • Tom

    Would have been nice to deal with Sacto. They clearly just want to shed salary, so anyone on that roster could have been had for nothing.

  • Jeff

    I’ve agreed with everything Ujiri has done so far, including not making any deals at this trade deadline. Besides maybe trying to ship Andre Miller, but I doubt we could get anything really incredible for him. What this team needs going forward is consistency and time moving forward. Settling into roles. Developing as a unit, not as a bunch of parts. Let that stew simmer.

    • Thomas

      If Masai himself is pretty sure to the point that he can’t say that we will ever contend, again, what are we doing here?

      Let the stew simmer and eat the same stew you have eaten for the past 7 seasons – just don’t expect it to taste any different.

      • AyKay

        And who exactly do we trade for right now with our assets?

        I’m tired of hearing people like you complain about the state of our team and expect us to somehow magically get a franchise player.

        Masai is playing within the state of how things are in the NBA. Franchise players are few and far between, and when they are available, they don’t want to come to Denver. First of all, we as Nuggets fans should be happy that after Melo left, Masai was able to keep our team from floundering. Few teams can lose their superstar and still contend afterward and possibly play even better than before. The fact we’re even as successful as we are is an accomplishment.

        It takes patience. Our team has a lot of upside and without Andre Miller, we’re the youngest team in the league so we only have time to grow. It’s smart to see how things pan out. And if that fails, I’m sure at somepoint a franchise player will become available and we might be able to trade for them.

      • Jeff

        What are we doing here? Letting our young talent develop into a contending team. He didn’t say this team won’t ever contend.
        What are we doing here? Giving this team a chance to see what they can do in the postseason. Would you really rather trade all our core for draft picks and start from scratch? Or trade for Josh Smith, who will magically put the team on his back and carry us to a championship? Pau Gasol? Reddick? There was nothing really good out there. Really what would you do differently?

        • Thomas

          I would:
          - Trade Miller now
          - Trade Moz now
          - With those trades land a back-up PG and a shooter
          - Give consistent minutes to JHam and 10 minutes to Stone and see what they can do in 25 games
          - Let GK go after this season (would never have signed him).
          - Trade Mcgee and Chandler: try to get Al Jefferson

          For next year: Ty-AI-Faried-Gallo-Jefferson (key subs KK, JHam, Brewer, new shooter (40% 3pt), back-up PG)

          • nugswin

            I keep seeing this ‘get a shooter’ in comments. Easy to say, much more difficult to do. Quality shooters who are athletic enough to play in the league are in very short supply. Look at Reddick, it took him years to develop into a guy who at his absolute peak playing ability is a 15-18 minutes a game off the bench guy for a contender.

            You just don’t “bring in a shooter”. Maybe Jordan Hamilton can develop into that guy for us. Maybe he’s ready and GK is screwing us over by not playing him regularly. But more likely we’ll have to be patient in order to add that ingredient to the Nugget mix.

  • CJP32

    Looks like FO are happy to see what we can do with the team we have in the Playoffs and then decide from there. There isn’t alot of pressure on GK or the players because we are young. However that should change this offseason.

    If make 2nd Rd or WCF, then no changes, if its a 1st Rd exit again, then we make moves.

    Iggy is due for 16 Mil, but Im sure Masai will encourage him to opt out and re-sign at a better deal for Denver. Theres the CBrew contract, Im sure Masai could convince him to stay, but he wants minutes and with a healthy WC that wont happen. Plus he could get more dollars elsewhere. Being 27 he will take the best offer he can get.

    Mozzy Im sure will get more dollars elsewhere. To me McGee could be moved if he doesnt live up to what we saw glimpses of last Playoffs. Andre Miller should be dealt.

    Right now, the leaders are Ty and Gallo, and the best support to them are Iggy and Faried. The other guys compliment them well. Do we need that Superstar though…..wait and see.

  • Kalen

    Gotta admit, like Chris said, I thought Ujiri was being a little too honest. The Nuggets are a top eight team in the entire league. They’re playing pretty damn good basketball right now. Perhaps they aren’t title contenders, but if everything falls in place I think a trip to the WCFs isn’t too far out of the question. When you emphatically state the Nuggets aren’t close to contending, what does that do to your team’s moral? Do you really want guys walking around thoroughly believing they don’t stand a chance to do something significant in the playoffs? Even if you really feel the Nuggets aren’t contenders, considering how good they are this year, I’d think that’s something you keep to yourself.

    • Jeff

      I wouldn’t really worry about that. The team knows who they are and the players know who they are individually. Nothing the manager says is going to shatter their ego. I think a team like the Lakers is championship or bust. All or nothing. The Nuggets- the players, the management, and GK, don’t see everything so black and white. Also I think the personality of this team likes to be underdogs. They don’t want to go around saying they will win the championship. Just my take.

    • theo

      He didn’t say they weren’t close to contending. That’s your ‘sky is falling’ take. He said he didn’t think they were contenders right now and hedged his bets about being contenders in the intermediate term because he gets how tough it is to build a real contender without doing it largely through the draft unless you have limitless money to spend and a city free agents want to come to. Come on.

  • googergieger

    Young team growing into contenders folks. Gallo, Ty, and Faried are going to grow into top players in their position. Gallo is already a top five guy at his position, just needs to be consistently aggressive. I think Faried might be close to a top five guy at his position in two years. Nobody will out work him at his position right now. Eventually his hard work will pay off for him and us. Ty is probably going to be a top five guard after the break again. Just need him to be that consistent from the start of the seasons. Hopefully McGee will reach half his potential by the play offs and close to all of it by this time next season. It takes time to be great. We’re where teams like The Bobcats want to be in five years, and OKC is where teams like us want to be in two years.

    • Tom

      Gallo is a top 5 SF. Iguodala is a top 5 SG. I could imagine Faried being a top 5 PF if he can become a defensive and rebounding force like Dennis Rodman. But Lawson? He’ll never be a top 5 PG. Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Derick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, Kyle Lowry, John Wall, Kemba Walker, Tyreke Evans, etc, etc. Lawson might not even be in the top 15 PGs. He’s kind of at the same level as a Jose Calderon or Brandon Jennings or Eric Bledsoe or Goran Dragic. He’s an undersized player with some wheels who can’t play defense, doesn’t have a great jump shot or free throw ability, and can’t really orchestrate an offense. He’s a solid average PG, but he’s never going to be anything more than that.

      McGee’s ceiling is probably Joakim Noah or maybe Tyson Chandler. The Nuggets will be quite happy if he manages to become a player like that. Probably won’t happen this year, but we’ll see. Koufos is actually younger, and he seems to be a hard worker and a smart player, so he might have some good upside too. I guess the front office wants more time to evaluate Mozgov as well, so hopefully one of those three will take the next step and become a really good player.

      Other than those guys, I have a good feeling about Fournier. That kid is really young, but he already has plenty of experience playing as a pro in Europe, and while he’s not an athletic freak, he seems like he could turn into a really smart and crafty player like Paul Pierce or Manu Ginobili. I think that was a good draft pick.

      As far as Quincy Miller and Jordan Hamilton go, the impression I get is they’ll never be more than bench role players providing some scoring here and there. It’s still early for them, but the prognosis does not look good.

      • magster

        Ty since January 1 has been pretty darn good…
        to the point where if he had a full season like he’s been playing the last month and a half, he’d be in the conversation for top 5. He’s hardly turning the ball over while scoring 20 +with 7 or so assists in many recent games.

      • googergieger

        Ugh.

      • Jeff

        That is one of the most bizarre assessments of the Denver Nuggets I could ever imagine. Did you just compare 1) Ty Lawson to Jose Calderon, 2) Javale McGee to Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler, and 3) Evan Fournier to Paul Pierce???
        I’m going into Stephen A Smith exasperated disbelief right now!!! I have no idea how you can come up with those statements. Ty Lawson is one of the fastest players in the league. He’s undersized. He can finish amongst the trees. Doesn’t have great court vision but is developing a deadly midrange game. Nothing about him is average or solid! You think just because he’s small he can’t play defense?
        What in the hell does Javale McGee have to do with Joakim Noah other than the fact that they play the same position??

        • Tom

          Yeah, that’s right. Lawson and Calderon have identical career TS%, nearly identical career PER and WS/48, Calderon has a much higher assist rate and Lawson has a much higher usage rate, and they’re both poor defenders and yes, it’s partially because they’re small, but it’s also just a plain fact. Their defensive advanced metrics are nearly identically poor, and neither player has been part of a good defensive team. Lawson is younger than Calderon, and that’s about the only thing in his favor at the moment. If you think he’s suddenly going to blossom into the next Tony Parker, you’re letting your bias as a fan cloud your judgment. There are a dozen PGs I would take over Lawson right now, and I’m a fan of Lawson.

          Joakim Noah is an all-star, a great defender and rebounder, the anchor of one of the greatest defensive teams over the past few years, and he’s significantly better than JaVale McGee. I’m merely pointing out that the Nuggets would be lucky if McGee ever became that kind of player. I personally don’t think it will ever happen, and judging by your response, you agree with me.

          Evan Fournier might be the smartest basketball player on the team, so yes, I think his ceiling is pretty high, especially since he’s one of the youngest players in the league. He’ll probably never have the career of Paul Pierce, but I could see him having a couple Pierce-like seasons. Basically, I think he can be a fringe all-star, and I think the coaching staff and front office are high on him too.

          • Jeff

            I guess I wasn’t shocked at those comparisons based on quality, I think Calderon is a good point guard, I just thought they were strange comparisons because all those players’ game is waaay different.

      • Guy

        I think you’ve overrated Gallo, AI, and Faried and underated Lawson. Lawson isn’t in the top 6 or 7 but I’d take him over John Wall, Kemba Walker, Lowry, Evans and even Steve Nash at this point in his career. I agree that he’s had too many games at 5 points or below but he’s the starting point guard on a winning team and not just putting up meaningless numbers for bad teams. There are plenty of games where he’s the best player on the floor.
        I don’t think Faried will ever be a top 5 PF unless he developes his offensive game and plays better defense. He’s not consistent enough and he’s undersized which is always going to be a problem.

    • Thomas

      Gallo and Ty are not top 5 at their position. Faried is.

      • GIANLUCA

        if Gallo have + shot he became a superstar .
        GALLO is a top4 SF .
        in this 2 year WHEN GALLO score 20+ point in pepsi center , NUGGETS ARE 15-0

  • Jacob

    You guys are overreacting a little. Honestly I think his comments were more of a challenge to his guys to grow up and play like the top dogs. We are on the fringe of that right now and he is pushing them to reach that next step. It’s not like he came out and said our team sucks, he just said a lot of things would have to break right for this team to beat the elites in the NBA.

    • theo

      Maybe. If he can speak truthfully and motivate the team to play better at the same time, all to the good. We’ll see how the Nugs respond.

  • EWilson

    I have a difficult time seeing the ‘mediocrity’ that some people here are complaining about. This is a very young team that is well over .500 despite starting with one of the most brutal opening schedules in decades. Yes, they’ve lost some games that they might have won, but that’s where experience helps you. As they play together more, they’ll start developing that confidence needed to overcome such obstacles.

    More importantly, for the first time since Mutumbo was patrolling the paint, I see a Nuggets team that showing some interest on the DEFENSIVE side of the ball. They certainly aren’t perfect defensively, but there are player who are taking pride in defending and one can only hope that thay culture spreads to all the young guys. Because it’s teams that can lock down defensively who win in the playoffs when every shot gets more difficult.

    I like where Ujiri has taken this team, and I like that he’s honest and aware of where they are now. Despite what some pundits said, I didn’t think the Nuggets were title contenders this year. But, starting next year, assuming everyone stays healthy, I think they will be.

    • Joshua

      I agree. WAAAAAAAY to much complaining. This blog used to have insightful posts…. now it’s just a place for people to whine. Nuggets are playing good ball for the roster they have. Let this team mature a bit, see what happens trade-wise next season, and in the meantime: Enjoy watching a good team!!

  • Ckwizard

    For those thinking that the Front Office dosen’t have confidence in the team or accepts mediocrity, I couldn’t disagree more. If you believe that the only way to get a superstar in Denver is to lose and be in the lottery what kind of fan are you or if you believe that Denver can compete with the Heat or Thunder with only one superstar you are dislusional because what Denver would have to give up to get a superstar would put the below the 3 star Heat or 2 star Thunder in terms of ability to compete with them. Denver has one or two viable options to get to the next level. The first is to make Denver the kind of team that a Star sees as a destination where that “star” can put the team over the top and win a championship. The second is to stock up on talent and find a way to develope some stars or get other teams to over value your assets to eventually get the lottery pick through another teams misfortune. Josh Smith isn’t the answer, Gasol isn’t the answer, riddick isn’t the answer. The price to get the right piece this year was way to high and would undo the last three years of work the Front Office has done. Losing Brewer and Mozgove at the end of the year doesn’t do anything to hurt this team, Fornier and Hamilton will be better and the Nuggets will be better next year. This year however if the nuggets can get out of the first round things get better, if they can get to the conference finals then things are really good, because maybe Denver can get a superstar to “want” to be here or the pieces will be so valued that the Front office can get a player that puts Denver over the top without destroying the depth. As of right now the Nuggets need to act like they have a “chip” on their shoulder and if it takes a slight by the front office to put it there then good on Ujiri for putting it there. If the Nuggets continue to figure out how to play better defense they are contenders!

    • googergieger

      Well it’d help if by we weren’t small at every single position when we close the game.

      • Ckwizard

        Agree

  • http://yahoo.com prospector

    Thanks MASAI for screwing us and leaving Miller in Denver.. I can’t wait for the next game so I can watch them go off from the three while Miller is flatfooted in the paint… Meanwhile, Monkey boy Karl will continue to press the small ball two point guard line-up button hoping for a win to pop out….. Great… So I have MASAI talking the same garbage that Karl and Miller spew.. Great… We would all still be in Europe with this kind of leadership.. Columbus would have said, I’ll wait for a better ship before we sail across the ocean.. You set you goals high.. Always… Just like Karl is always giving his boys excuses when they are the road… Or his I hope we split comments….. This is BS.. Find me a coach with passion, that can do more than press a button….. Maybe the coaches passion would then fire up the front office boys…… AH, but reality just hit me again… We have KARL, we have MILLER….. We have excuses… THIS SUCKS

    • Thomas

      I think it all comes down to that notion that many GMs share that “well, Lebron and the Heat will dominate the next 3 years so there is no point in doing big, short-term adjustments to my team”.

      Even if you have have a such a belief, you need to be convinced that your young core has what it takes to be in that discussion after 3 years. So what does that leave us with?

      Masai, and many of our fans, think that Gallo, Lawson and Faried is our core for the future that can take us to have title aspirations some day.

      As much as I like these 3 players, that’s just not going to cut it talent wise. You would need excellent coaching and an outstanding group of complementing players to pull it off. You would need Popovich or Thibodeau, you would need a sharp shooter, you would need a dominating center.

      Not happening.

  • Tom

    Unrelated, but dang I miss Billups. He’s been playing really well since he came back from his injury. He’s exactly what this team needs right now, a smart player, great shooter, great leader who actually wants to be here (unlike Miller). If only we could go back in time and say “nah, we don’t want Felton, you guys keep him and we’ll keep Billups”, then the Nuggets would have Billups right now instead of Miller (and I actually like Miller, but Billups is clearly a better fit and a fan favorite).

    • Jeff

      Ha yeah I agree with you there. I’ve been wondering, if we brought Chauncey back for a third stint in a Nuggets uniform would that be an NBA record?

  • michael

    its stupid to use youth as an excuse .OKLAHOMA CITY HAS A YOUNGER TEAM THEN THE NUGGETS. If this team isnt ready to contend after you being here for 3 seasons then I think its time to find a new general manager.

    • dynamo.joe

      Who’s been here for 3 seasons? Lawson?

      • EWilson

        True, OKC is young, but they also built last year’s Finals team with a #2, #3 and #4 pick in the draft (Durant, Harden & Westbrook), and they got lucky with Durant when Portland took Greg Oden #1. They did a remarkable job drafting.

        But, what would Nuggets fans suggest? Trying to tank three consecutive seasons, then get lucky in the draft lottery and THEN get lucky in the draft when three franchise type players are available when they pick?

        OKC is simply a well-run organization that was in the right place at the right time and made the right moves. Denver has never been in that position (they’ve never had a pick higher than #3), so to wish for that is fruitless.

        Instead, people ought to take a look at what Ujiri has accomplished from a much worse position. He turns the Nuggets #3 pick (Melo), who doesn’t want to be here into two solid players (Gallinari and Chandler), a decent center (Mozgov) and a back-up point guard (Felton, who he traded to get Miller). With a series of mediocre first round picks he gets a very good PG (Lawson, #18 pick), a great energy foward (Faried, #22), and two potential rotation guys (Fournier #20, Hamilton #26).

        He spends a 2nd round pick on Arron Afflalo, then uses him to secure an All-Star player (Iguodala) while also shedding a burdensome contract (Harrington). He spends another 2nd round pick to get a solid starting center (Koufos). And he finds Corey Brewer on the scrap heap and secures him for a cheap contract.

        All in all, a solid effort given what he had to work with. If you look at Nuggets history, they’ve finished with the worst record in the league 3 times and the BEST pick they ended up with was a #3.

        The first #3 went for Chris Jackson in a two person draft (Derrick Coleman, Gary Payton). No one after that had a all-pro career, so they wouldn’t have benefitted from another pick. The second #3 went for Raef LaFrentz, and I knew that pick was bad when it was made. (I was screaming for Paul Pierce, but Dirk Nowitzki would have worked as well.) The third #3 was Melo, and Denver got lucky when Detroit took Darko Milicic. If they take Melo, then the best the Nuggets could have done was Dwayne Wade, who might not have wanted to stay either.

        The point, though, is that the draft requires luck and timing in addition to solid talent evaluation. Maybe if Ujiri blew the team up, he’d succeed that way, but it’s more likely he’d be out of a job before he had a chance to. Let the man work. He’s shown he knows what he’s doing.

    • James

      Michael, I’m curious, what would you have us do? A strong argument could be made that right now, we are the 4th or 5th best team IN THE NBA. OKC, SA and Miami are better. So are Clips, but they are fading. We are right with NYK, Memphis, and maybe Brooklyn. I agree we are not realistic contenders (I could come up with a best case scenario for getting to the WCF or finals, with just a little improvement from a few guys, but really, we are a likely second round exit), but really, how much better could we be?

      LeBron or KD isn’t going to fall in our lap, and all of the FA’s available this deadline weren’t going to help us contend (Josh Smith? Really? And he was the best out there). As I see it, if we can keep this core for 4-5 years, we’ll outlast San Antonio (age), and can potentially catch OKC. Miami may always be better, but I see this team doing nothing but getting better, as currently constituted. And without one of the 5-10 absolute elite (KD, Lebron, CP3, old Kobe, etc), we have as good a chance of winning as we do by trading for anyone else. And we are more fun to watch.

      I think management has done everything really well, and we are poised, with this team, to improve the next few years, and will likely contend. Who knows, maybe we get one lucky pick or FA in there, and pushes us farther. This whole, “this team can’t win, blow it up or make a trade” is totally counterproductive. I look at the glass as very full now, as opposed to half empty. I want a championship, too, but l am realistic, and appreciate the product and the process.

  • heykyleinsf

    I respect these guys and I agree about being patient.

    I would be happy this year with just getting past the 2nd round..

    We do have some shooters in Gallo and Brewer.

    My biggest ? is Chandler. It would be nice if he came through.
    And honestly.. I do get it.. that Iggy is one of the best defenders
    in the NBA.. but there is just no excuse for the ungodly horrible offense. Come on.. JR Smith got rebounds to.. and was he ever
    a whipping boy for Karl and the fans alike.

    I want Iggy to stay.. but I would also love it..
    any time everyone can get real about what he is ..
    especially for the money…
    I’m not seeing the bang .. just the buck.

    • googergieger

      What do you think of Tyson Chandler? Or Melo? Who is just offense.

  • googergieger

    OKC isn’t younger. This team is barely having it’s first real season together. Melodrama, lock out, and now.

    Masai has made us better than the last few years of the Melo era. See where we are at after this year. Miller becomes a more viable trade option after this year. We’ll know what becomes of Iggy at the end of this year. Act accordingly. Stupid to make a trade just to make a trade, or blow up a team in order to draft young guys with potential, which we have now. Young guys with potential who are getting better.

  • AllAround

    Interested to see how much Mozz will play in the upcoming games

  • Woobly o Balls

    Have to respect what Masai has done in the past and chose to do this deadline.

    However if I had it my way, I’d be blowing this team up. It could be done much quicker than the usual rebuild. We need Wiggins or Parker, just sayin’

  • http://Denverstiffs.com slader

    I can live with standing pat, although I think Redick would have fit well if we could have gotten him while subtracting Dre Miller.
    If internal development is the main goal, I would expect Masai to move Miller during the offseason. But if they believe in Fournier, Hamilton and Stone enough to risk losing a few games while they grow, it might have been better to let that happen this season. Oh well.
    In the meantime let’s hope Gallo and Ty maintain their current level going forward: their emergence as stars is probably more important than complementary players around them. Gallo team leader, Ty floor leader, Dre$ defensive leader. These are the men around whom to arrange a cast of quality boys.
    If you see it that way, we are close, and cautious optimism is certainly in order.

  • Giovanni

    The 2004 pistons…
    The superstar Rasheed Wallace and Billups…
    One of best defender ofv the history of nba(Ben Wallace)and two very good playerbin RIP and Prince…

    How to compare to the NUggets of this year?

    One championshio,one finals and multiple estearn conference finals..

    In 2005 the Pistons got robben by GInobili and Horry…

    The Nuggets best way is to advance in second round of play off..
    This the truth…

    • Ban Johnson

      Nobody thought that highly of any of those Pistons’ players back in February of 2004. Their reputation in history is burnished by the fact that they were successful.

      Nothing is guaranteed for the Nuggets. But they have that kind of potential. That’s all I’m saying.

      • mike

        Ben wallace was recognized as a top tier defender. Rasheed was recognized as a bit of a headcase but a top 5-10 PF and I don’t think people understood how good his low post defense was. And Larry Brown has his flaws, but when coaching a team he was a top 5 defensive coach in the history of the league. And of course defense is extremely hard to differentiate individual contribution and value for statistically even now let alone 8 years ago. This team has one great defender (iguodala) and one above average (Brewer). Otherwise everyone else is average. The nuggets have guys that have potential to develop but really no one is undervalued currently. If anything Faried and Mcgee are overvalued because they play such poor positional and anticipatory defense.

  • allAround

    A good chance for giving Miller and Mozz was lost .

    Damn .

    I am bored to listen to any arguments .

    Miller will go flat ( is already slow) on plays and Mozz is kept in case of injury . But wait a minute does Karl prefers small ball ?

    I am bored to listen to any arguments . Nuggets needed that trade . Period .

    YEAP MASAI , THE TEAM IS NOT A CONTESTER YOU DO NOT HELP TO BE ONE.

  • Zorba

    I would give Gallo, Drew, Moz and Miller for Kevin Durant (at least in my dreams).
    Any other trade wouldn’t be useful, so just be patient and wait…
    We’ve got a young growing team and I wouldn’t be surprised if we reached the wcf…

  • Aaron

    We trust Masai:

    RT @ESPNStatsInfo: Carmelo was traded 2 years ago today. Since then, the Nuggets are 6th (.616) and the Knicks are 10th (.566) in win pct.

    • GK4Prez

      4-8 in the playoffs (.333).

  • BOB

    Giovanni and Ban are both correct. The ’04 Pistons had AS YET UNRECOGNIZED stars on their team. Their patience was rewarded. The pertinent question, asked by Shapiro in this interview, and by Giovanni here is “Are there any as yet unrecognized stars on this nuggets team?” Masai’s honest answer was, to paraphrase “We’ll see.” I think that’s a reasonable take. Though he’s nowhere near the defensive player that Wallace was, I think Faried might be considered ‘similar’ in that he’s incredibly productive in underappreciated ways. 5 Farieds would not make a good team, but he’s remarkably valuable to a well-balanced team — a potential superstar role player, a la Wallace. Gallo and Ty have each flashed star potential while remaining inconsistent, a malady which some players cure only after several years in the league — a la Billups.
    The Nuggs core is young enough to expect improvement from a team that’s already in the top third of the league. Talk of blowing it up makes no sense. They’re on step 2 or 3 of a potentially successful (read championship) rebuild.
    The real question is how big a window this team has to take that next step. For the most part, nba players stop improving after the age of about 25, after which gains made by learning are offset by losses in athleticism, causing a plateau in overall production until the losses begin to outweigh the gains. What we’re seeing isn’t that different a team than, barring a good trade or three, we’re likely to see for the next several years. Any sign that Gallo, Faried or Lawson is not progressing toward his potential (that’s not offset by a ‘lights on’ epiphany by McGee) and the window starts to close. At that point, the great (and sometimes rewarded) temptation will be to take a shortcut and deal for a pau gasol or al jefferson. It’s these shortcuts, when they don’t work out, which lead to the dreaded wasteland called mediocrity.
    On the other hand, while i think it’s reasonable to ‘be patient’ with such a young and promising core, i think it’s important to develop those young ‘uns in the system in which you foresee them being successful, among teammates with skills like those of the guys who’ll play alongside them when they reach the top. For that reason, i think that a consolidating trade or two which balanced the overall skillset of the team would have been worthwhile, something Masai at least had in mind with his answer to “What were you looking for?”, which was “shooters”. For that reason only, I’m a bit disappointed at the inactivity. I think we’ve seen about how good Brewer, likely Chandler, certainly Moz and obviously Miller are going to be. They have value, but except as trade pieces, they’re not from where the improvement this team’s hoping for is going to come. There’s no reason to ‘be patient’ with them if you could turn them into better role players and/or players with higher ceilings.
    As for the system in which they’ll become stars, I’m pretty sure it’s not Karl’s, because from what i can tell, he doesn’t have one (Unless it’s Switch and Run, which is, at best, half a system, easily exploited in a seven game series).
    Sorry to further bore you, allAround.

  • Rupert

    Since the Carmelo trade, Nuggs have the 6th best record in the league. NYK have the 10th. The media in general was saying that Denver would be the new Cleveland. I’m somewhat new to this site, but I don’t get all this negativity around the Nuggets and George Karl. This team is one of the most entertaining teams to watch in the league (if not the most entertaining) and they are competing for a top 4 seed in the West. They’d probably get the 2 seed if they were in the East. And they are just starting to play their best ball. I would be very happy if they made it to the second round this year. They are very young. And hopefully as the team matures they should be a threat to contend for a top 3 seed year in and year out. That would be the goal in my eyes. What do you guys want? A trade for Lebron or Durant? Seems to be some very unrealistic expectations. I guess it’s the general instant gratification mindset of our generation, but I am very excited for the Nuggets future.

    • Rupert

      Also, I saw something somewhere in one of these blogs about the Broncos being the only Denver team that cares about winning a championship. Broncos didn’t even make the playoffs for many years. They sign Peyton and now they are the only team that cares about winning championships. If the Nuggs could realistically sign a guy like Lebron or Durant, I believe they probably would give it a shot. Who wouldn’t? There are not that many guys out there like that in the NBA.

      I will say that Karl can be frustrating with his linueps occasionally. I’m somewhat with a lot of you on the Andre Miller thing. Mostly because he has this strangely bad attitude. Especially for a guy who chose to re-sign knowing the situation. I also don’t think he is a guy that must be on the court at the end of games. But there are times when I do like him on the court at the end of games. Just wish Karl would not be afraid to hurt his feelings/ego and pull him when he doesn’t have it that night. But for those who are calling for more playing time for Hamilton and Randolph. I don’t get that. Who are they better than? George Karl is a good coach and is considered one of the best in the business throughout NBA circles. If they have first round exits the next two years, he probably will be fired. But until then, I see a lot to be optimistic about. I am glad they didn’t make a trade just to make a trade. Excited for the playoffs this year. I think the Nuggets are doing everything they can do be as competitive as possible considering the difficult circumstances with the Carmelo thing. Championships in the NBA are hard to come by. Definitely glad they didn’t go the “Suck for LucK” route and turn into the Wizards, Bobcats, or Kings. So many busts in the NBA draft. It could take a decade to get out of that kind of mess

      • rxmart2

        Great post. I don’t understand how guys can argue about the number of minutes his players do or don’t get. IMO George Karl has yet to miss out on real talent within his bench, and I don’t see him doing that now. These are probably the same people that though we should have given more minutes to JR Smith, Renaldo Balkman, and Steven Hunter…

        I’ve asked this before, but has there every been a player Karl has doghoused that ended up succeeding elsewhere? I honestly can’t think of any, and bbref searches prove fruitless. I can, however, think of a ton of guys who Karl has taken from the scrap heap and turned into NBA players (Afflalo, Kosta, JR Smith, Brew, Birdman)…

        I just don’t see how the number of minutes Karl gives his players should even be a question considering his history in that department. But then again I’m sure us armchair GMs are much better evaluators of talent smh.

        • Ryan

          Ray Allen did pretty well when he was freed from GK, Sam Cassell got the Clippers to the playoffs with Elton Brand and company… lazy argument. Better point: how many playoff series has GK’s golden boy Andre Miller ever won?

  • googergieger

    Karl is given a free pass because of his story. The same people that call him one of the greatest are the same that chastized SVG for not winning a title in Orlando and Dwight being right about asking for a new coach.

    Anywhoots, I always see plenty of quotes with Karl saying “No bleeping layups”. What does he say about wide open three’s? Cause past couple of games, not even close to contesting. Just wide open. Then by the time an effort is made the shooters are hot and don’t miss. I mean I guess a wide open three is harder to make than a lay up. But, you’d figure the barest of effort would be made to contest every shot period.