In Josh Kroenke we trust?

“In Ujiri We Trust.”

The phrase could be found in the blog comments, in the tweets, in the message board posts, and on the lips of many a Nuggets fan over the past few years, as Masai Ujiri skillfully shepherded the Nuggets through the Melodrama and crafted a roster which achieved historical success for the franchise, and earned him the Executive of the Year award.

So when the news broke that Ujiri would not be staying with Denver, a shocked, loud and angry “WTF?!?” reverberated through the halls of Nuggets fandom.

The press conference Josh Kroenke held the day after firing George Karl, and about a week after Ujiri had announced he was leaving for Toronto, enshrouded the fate of the Denver Nuggets’ front office and coaching staff in uncertainty, and planted seeds of doubt in the minds of many Nuggets fans.

Was Denver’s young owner truly acting in the team’s best interest, or merely being brash and cheap, cutting top shelf talent just to pinch pennies?

One interesting aspect of the presser was how it differed in tone and rhetoric from previous ones. One thing was crystal clear from Josh Kroenke’s verbiage: He wanted to assert that he, and he alone, is The Man in charge of the Denver Nuggets.

The refrain that “Stan Kroenke is cheap,” or alternately that “the Kroenkes are cheap,” was (and to an extent still is) often heard in Nuggets fan circles. This narrative has generally been floating around, but was greatly amplified after the news broke that Ujiri was Toronto-bound.

But anyone not aware of Stan’s existence would have remained entirely in the dark after watching Josh’s post-Karl firing press conference. In statement after statement, the younger Kroenke uttered a litany of “I”s and “me”s in describing the decision-making processes of the Nuggets organization.

A small sample:

“For next year, I’m not lowering expectations at all. I’m going to try to win every game I can.”

“I’m incredibly excited about the opportunities that are ahead of me.”

“I needed to take a step back and assess where I wanted to take the team.”

(On the Karl firing): “This was my decision. At the end of the day, it was never Masai’s decision, it was always mine… I know sports on a lot of different levels, …and I have no intention of taking my foot off the gas with anything I’m doing going forward.”

“I can assure all the fans that we are going to be fine. We are excited about the future and hopefully they trust me at this point because I was the guy that hired Masai.”

It seemed to many that Josh Kroenke was very intentionally bending over backwards to shatter the quasi-puppetmaster perception of Stan pulling strings behind the curtain, as well as to stress that even when Masai was seated in the GM chair, the buck stopped with Josh and nothing was done without his input and approval.

The topic of the conference was Karl and Ujiri, but it seemed to really be all about Josh.

Looking back to the two big press conferences in the 2012 offseason – one after the Iguodala trade, and the other to roll out the new uniforms – the mode of discussing what Denver was doing tended to be expressed in “we”s rather than “I”s. And going back further, that tended to be the Nuggets’ m.o.

As such, the “me-centric” (and borderline hubristic) nature of Josh’s comments really jumped out starkly, and it seems likely that the viscerally negative reactions a lot of Nuggets fans had to his statements is at least partly derivative of that tone.

The angst in Nuggetsland was further compounded when Pete D’Alessandro became the next to bail, accepting Sacramento’s offer to take charge of the Kings’ front office, and was followed out the door shortly thereafter by scouting director Dan Tolzman and director of player personnel, Mike Bratz. (For more details on this, see Kalen’s post, “What to make of the Nuggets’ front office exodus”).

“In Kroenke We Doubt” seemed to be precipitously close to replacing “In Ujiri We Trust” as, if not a new catch phrase, the defining mood amongst Nuggets fans.

But how quickly perceptions can change.

In the space of less than a week, Josh Kroenke has filled the vacated positions with two men who are very highly esteemed and well respected around the league.

Tim Connelly was brought on as the Nuggets’ new executive vice president of basketball operations (a marbled mouthful of a title which reinforces the “Josh in charge” structure of the organization), and Brian Shaw as Denver’s new head coach. (See Kalen’s “Who is…?” posts on Connelly and Shaw for more on their respective reputations and pedigrees).

And, for the most part, it seems that the majority of Nuggets fans have breathed a sigh of relief, especially after an interview with the dreaded Vinnie Del Negro was reported.

Josh Kroenke may not have regained the full confidence of the fans. However, it’s safe to say that with these hirings he did reclaim a good measure of the benefit of the doubt, though questions remain.

Could Kroenke have retained Ujiri by matching Toronto’s offer or pushing harder for an extension earlier last season, or was Masai fully intent on finding his way back to the Raptors regardless?

Was firing Karl after he was named Coach of the Year for helming a team which, against the odds, achieved a franchise-best 57 wins really the correct decision?

Is Josh Kroenke willing to let go of top talent just to cut a few salary corners?

There is some subjectivity in all these questions, and those involved will almost certainly never completely spill the beans about their innermost thoughts (though Karl was surprisingly candid in several interviews following his firing).

But what we can say for now, at least, is that Kroenke has legitimately mitigated the more apocalyptic doubts and fears (among them, declaring himself GM) of many Nuggets fans by bringing on board two highly qualified, exciting and enthused up-and-comers who appear to be compatible with his vision of how the team should be run, and eager to grow and develop the players, the organization, and themselves.

On a gut reaction level, it felt good to see Josh Kroenke revert to more “we”-oriented rhetoric at the presser to introduce Tim Connelly, and one would expect to hear more of the same on Tuesday afternoon’s introduction of Brian Shaw (2 p.m. MST) where, presumably, all three members of the young Nuggets triumvirate will be presenting a united front.

Of course, the proof will be in the pudding. Will they be able to retain Andre Iguodala, who recently let it be known that he would opt out and test the waters of free agency? How will they approach draft day? The resolution of these and many more as yet unanswered questions will, by and by, inform us as to just how competent this newly assembled team really is.

But one thing is readily apparent: Josh Kroenke has been quick and assertive in replacing lost talent with some very impressive and promising – if less established – talent.

To have done so is an encouraging sign, and if this new team delivers a Nuggets product which is successful – especially in the postseason – then Josh stands a reasonably good chance not only of alleviating the recently festering doubt of many fans, but genuinely earning our trust.

Josh Kroenke can come across as lawerly and political (in terms of spin doctoring), and it seems unlikely that fans would ever have the same enthusiasm for him as they did for Masai.

But even if “In Josh We Trust” never quite takes root as a motto, it appears much more likely now than it did even just a week ago that it might become an accepted narrative amongst Nuggets fans.

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  • LBJ

    Before slobbering all over Josh’s shoes, I will wait to see some actual proof that a guy who had 12 unsuccessful interviews for a head coaching job and a guy who built the Pelicans and the Wizards into their current powerhouses status are “great hires.”

    • Cullen

      12 unsuccessful interviews translated into: A lot of offers he turned down because he didn’t want to coach train wreck teams, jsyk.

      • LBJ

        That’s funny, I never heard of him turning down any jobs…

        • Cullen

          Lol and if you don’t know it, it must not exist.

          The Bobcats job. Once again, I’m probably going to agree with the large NBA consensus that he will be a great coach rather than your negative and holistically awful posts with no supporting evidence for why either will be bad, rather that you’d prefer the old Nuggets regime.

          • Brad Murdock

            Going to have to agree with Cullen here. You don’t accept every job you interview for, and teams don’t announce when they’ve been rebuked by a coach. It’s embarrassing for them. Are there questions why he hasn’t landed a job yet? Sure. But there’s a reason that Vogel has credited him for the development of Hibbert and George and there’s a reason Kobe wanted Shaw as his coach when PJ left, and ignoring those points while making an argument of ignorance shows that you’re really more concerned about hating on an owner who was willing to pay Doc Rivers 7m+ to coach our team. I think Kroenke is showing that he’s serious about winning and deserves a little more respect from our fan base because of that.

            • LBJ

              Your pretty gullible if you believe that: 1) Joshy was ready to pay Doc $7m + per year (when he wouldn’t spend the money to extend Ujiri last fall) and 2) that an assistant coach who has never had a head NBA job interviews for one – and then turns it down because its not a good situation. If its not a “good situation” why even interview?

          • LBJ

            Furthermore, I never said anything about his coaching abilities. I said I wanted to see some evidence of these skills before I start extolling him as the second coming.
            If he turns McGoof into Roy Hibbert next year – then I’m on board.

  • Scott

    I feel like a trade is going down for the nuggets on Thursday. Whether its moving into the second round or the lottery or out of the draft completely, I just want miller gone.

    • steve

      im also a believer that dre is gone…wouldnt be surprised if they packaged pick with him just to get him off the roster and free up cap room.

      • heykyleinsf

        I think this is huge as well (Andre Miller).. I wish someone at RBMC would do an article breaking down the logistics of ridding ourselves.

        • herpderpnuggets

          they better do it soon, because the draft is in 2 days

    • dynamo.joe

      Not that it requires picks, but YMCAn’re + Chandler = Luol Deng works and Chicago is supposedly shopping him.

      I believe he will be an expiring this next season, so we can trade him to someone looking to free up space for the free agent class of 2014. Or keep him so we have cap space for free agents/extending Faried.

  • heykyleinsf

    I think there are all kinds of reasons to be excited about next season. If fans want to give up now, not see any hope or future… wow. Seems silly to me.. but Ok.

  • airvaid

    I was one of the doubters. But the Brain Shaw hiring is a step in the right direction. I don’t know anything about Tim Connelly and the other guy except the media like to call them “respected” and “rising stars”. I don’t believe for one second that Doc Rivers was ever gonna come to Denver. It was a news report that benefited both Celtics, as it gave them leverage over the Clippers, and the Nuggets as it gave Josh supporters the mantra “look he just tried to pay 7M for Doc Rivers”. Yeah anybody who is familiar with how PR works is not buying that.

    But with Brain Shaw, he’s got the pedigree. He won as a player. People should read Phil Jacksons book “Eleven Rings” to see how respected he was as a team mate by Kobe and one of the only people who could get through to him.

    He’s won rings as Phil’s assistant, and people just remember the championship winning seasons with those teams not the years they spent trying to groom Bynum and other players that finally led to the three finals and two rings.

    And he’s got the pedigree of developing players at Indiana. Paul George and Lance Stephenson specifically credit him with their development. And it’s not often you find people willing to give credit to other people especially in something as ego driven as sports.

    So it tells you what kind of person he is, how much development pedigree he has and how much he knows about a winning culture.

    It’s the perfect hire.

    • jarod

      I would have been a better hire.

      • toluene hawk

        Meant to say I would have made the perfect hire. Forgot login info to my disqus acocunt and Yahoo! has locked my account have having opened it in 1999. Cheers to their new shit-CEO for changing everything around.

  • sherlock

    Hard to believe a couple of the negative nancy posts here, but I guess you will always have those types of “fans.” Personally I’m pretty pleased as a fan of the Nuggets. Josh could have kept ol’ GK next year, heck even extended him, because he’s daddy’s favorite. They won 57 games, had some momentum going into round 1, only to get embarrassed. I applaud Josh, he saw this wasn’t working, he could have kept the status quo, raked in the money for next years 50 win team while he counted his 100’s. No, he wants to win and he’s ok with taking some risks to TRY and make it happen. Denver isn’t LA or NY, we are onto something here and I think he is making the moves to continue to down that path.

    Shaw looks to be a perfect fit, he’s interviewed a few places, probably even been offered a few jobs. He has a lot of respect for Phil Jackson and I think Phil has steered him away from some potential dumpster fires. Shaw’s learned from some of the best in the game, to me this was the only way we could go if we were serious about trying to contend and not just dismantle and be cheap. I think any true Nugget fan/basketball fan can see things are looking pretty good in Denver after a couple of nerve racking weeks.

    • LBJ

      You mean the kind of “fans” that don’t think its a great idea to fire a Hall of Fame coach after he wins CoY and get rid of the executive of the year – all after the team wins more games than ever in its history??? Not to mention this all happens a couple of years after our “franchise” player demanded to leave, we have one of the youngest teams in the league and one of our 3 top players tears up his knee before the playoffs.
      Maybe I’m not the kind of “fan” that bitches about Karl and Andre after every game we lose (and never credits them after we win). I’m also not the kind of “fan” that thinks its great to replace Karl and Ujiri with a couple of guys with no track records. It might work out, but I’d like to see some evidence (outside of a few of Josh’s bootlickers saying they were great hires).

      We should have a much better idea over the next month…

      • eds322

        Karl: 8 first round exits out of 9 seasons. 21-38 in the playoffs.

        This season. 57 wins, great! #3 seed, great! Home court advantage having only lost 3 homes games all year, great! All Star David Lee is out for the series, great!

        Lose to the #6 seed who won 47 games, lost their All Star for the series, and out coached by Mark Jackson who is in his second year of coaching, not so great.

        Lastly, what was Masai’s track record before becoming becoming VP of the Nuggets? What great things did he do in Toronto before coming back to the Nuggets?

        • LBJ

          Nobody was slobbering over Ujiri when he was hired – we were upset when he left after compiling a good track record. On the other hand, Connelly’s track record looks pretty piss poor – giving away Chris Paul in deal the league had to veto because he was getting screwed, letting David West walk, and drafting Austin Rivers (I won’t even mention his Wizard tenure). You might want to wait until he actually does something here before you start slobbering about what a great hire he is.
          Karl got us in the playoffs every year he was here – something only the Spurs have accomplished. This year he did it without an all star on the roster! He ran into a hot team (had they not given away game 1 against the Spurs, who knows how far they would have gotten). You missed a few details – Lee wasn’t out for the series, but Gallo was and Faried missed games as well. Furthermore, GS played most of the regular season w/o Bogut (hence the 47 wins) – who kicked the hell out of our posts.

          • Bryan

            Connelly wasn’t the decision maker at any of those places. Toronto didn’t exactly wrap itself in glory with its personnel decisions while Masai was there, who also wasn’t making the decisions.

            Bogut beat the crap out of Wilson Chandler when Karl foolishly chose to respond to GS losing Lee and having to go small by trying to go even smaller. And the charmin soft Kofous who Karl stubbornly chose to play instead of developing McGee—a player who can actually have an impact in a playoff series.

            Since you’re clearly a Karl apologist, I’m curious as to what your explanation for Karl not getting a job is? I mean when he was fired it came out that Toronto had no interest in bringing him to replace Casey.

            • LBJ

              So we hire a guy that hasn’t made any decisions in any prior jobs (in places where there have been a plethora of shitty decisions) – and according to you that is a “great hire.” Exactly what evidence can you supply to support this opinion? Did he get the mail delivered to the right guys? Make a mean pot of coffee?

              • sherlock

                He’s saying Masai was in the same boat Connelly is now when he was brought to the Nuggets. It turned out pretty well for us, so we’re taking anther shot at an unknown talent. No difference, in fact Connelly probably has it easier in he’s not inheriting an unhappy Melo, who wants out of town.

              • Cullen

                God, you need to learn how to logic bro. So it’s either he had full say in decisions or he was making a pot of coffee? You know, there is middle ground… He’s well respected from within the Association (ie from people who know more than you) and jesus christ what is everyones beef with Austin Rivers? So he wasn’t an all star in his rookie season, means he was an awful pick? STUPPPIIDDDDD.

                Who would have been better picks at GM in a world of non-Mesai? Or better coach than Shaw post Karl? I know you will say we shouldn’t have gotten rid of either… but do you REALLY want to pay Mesai 5 mil a year… That’s 3.5 higher than the average btw. And what do you do with a Karl who has become an insane whiner because we wouldn’t bend over backwards and extend is contract?

              • LBJ

                Bro, maybe you could “learn me how to logic.” If Connelly had nothing to do with any of the stupid shit that was going on the last 2 places he worked – explain what makes him a great hire?
                You are right about one thing – I contend that we should have never gotten rid of either Masai or Karl. We would not have had to pay Ujiri $5m per year either, if we would have simply extended him last fall.

              • Cullen

                There was stupid shit that happened at both places, but there were also good moves made in both directions. Drafting Anthony Davis, Greivus Vasquez and getting Eric Gordan. Etc. Plus the Wizards weren’t all bad… they made the playoffs consistently just a few years ago. But like was said earlier Masai wasn’t a highly touted and proven guy, either…

                But really, why is it that Karl never made it past the first round more than once?

                You’re the kind of fan that is okay with mediocrity.

                Maybe we fail with these guys, but at least we have shown that we are no longer okay with losing.

                Plus, we aren’t going to fail with these guys… we will be better and advance in the playoffs.

                Change isn’t all bad, bro…. learn to livin up a bit. :)

            • sherlock

              I was going to say exactly what you just did. Well put in every aspect!!

            • LBJ

              McGoof didn’t get big minutes because he had his head up his ass most of the series. Not to mention, he is so out of shape he was gasping for air after 5 minutes on the court.

              FYI – McGoof played more minutes in the series than KK.
              We will see what kind of teacher Shaw is next year – if McGoof learns how to block out.

          • sherlock

            Dude you are seriously grasping at straws! It’s pretty funny, it’d be funnier if I knew you didn’t actually believe the things you’re typing. I hope your actual IQ is higher then your basketball IQ.

      • sherlock

        Yeah GK is a HOF coach, so is Donnie Nelson. Some dudes just can’t produce when it matters most. I like GK I”m not happy he’s gone, but I am happy that we have an organization that isn’t happy with just 57 wins. IT MEANS NOTHING!!! Golden State beat the shit out of us, GK was OUT COACHED by Mark Jackson. Embrace the change bro or sit here and be the “fan that bitches about every everything” Be a skeptic, a negative baby, whatever, GK gone get over it. Soon your hero old man Miller will join him haha. Can’t wait. A fan to me can see that this needed to happen and we are headed in a good direction and be happy about it. A casual basketball joker like yourself clings to “but but he was coach of the year” and “but but we won 57 games :(.”

        • LBJ

          Bro, the NBA is about talent, not coaching. Nelson and Karl were great coaches, but never had the talent that Phil Jackson had and Spoelstra has.
          Casual fans are the morons like you that think winning in the NBA is easy – and the new hires (who have never lost a game) will always do better than the old guy. Nuggets fans – who followed the team before Karl – are well aware that isn’t always the case.

          • sherlock

            Dude I don’t think I’ve ever said winning in the NBA is easy. I said 57 wins means nothing when it’s followed by anther (in the long list) of 1st round playoff exits. We’ve made the playoffs for 9 straight years, that’s great as I’ve stated before. But there comes a time where there’s a turning point for an organization. Maybe it’s greed, I dunno but I know I want more then 57 wins, 3rd seed and a spanking by the 6 seed. That was more disappointing then missing the playoffs at this point. Mark Jackson is a new hire, and he showed the HOF Karl a thing about playoff basketball, even when he lost his All Star PF.

          • Cullen

            I think it’s incredibly LOL for you to keep blaming TALENT for GK’s AWFUL playoff record. Did you know that he’s advanced past the first round like 4 or 5 times out of 20 years? He consistently loses to lower seeds, etc. If you look at those Seattle rosters and tell me they weren’t full of talent you’re an idiot. And the Nuggets rosters were much better than a lot of rosters that they lost to.

            I also resent the opinion that we were “just getting ready to turn the corner with the young roster!” Because we’ve been waiting to turn the corner for a decade and GK’s entire NBA career.

            We know that new hires aren’t always better… but both hires come on high appraise by the entire NBA, not just the front office. Yes, we could have stuck with what we know, FIRST ROUND EXISTS, or try something new and stop settling for just “ok”.

            By your logic new hires could never actually do anything in the NBA… because we need proven people… but how can they prove themselves if they never get a shot? Additionally, Shaw was the associate head coach (got mad praise from Pacer players) of the Pacers, a team that didn’t exist in the first round… a team that gave the Heat all they could handle. So, yeah…

            • LBJ

              You can “resent” the opinion all you want – but this team was moving forward after ending the Melo debacle. That is not the time “to try something new” just for the helluva it. New hires have a place – the Nuggets have tried several of them – but not after your team completes one of its most successful seasons in history.
              EXISTING in the first round notwithstanding, I’m just afraid that this is a serious step backwards. Like I said earlier, we will know a lot more in the next month.

              • Cullen

                Yeah, the regular season was pretty cool. But I’d trade 10 losses and those awards for a trip to the second round, like the Warriors had. Plus, we’ve seen this before. GK has a great regular season and flops in the playoffs, but next year will be different! Lol no it wouldn’t have…

              • LBJ

                Our season essentially ended when Gallo tore up his knee. After that any chance for a deep playoff run was over.

  • toluene hawk

    If Iguodala does not make a new contract with the Nuggets, do you think the Nuggets should make an offer to J.R. Smith as a starting SG?

    • Len Nunes

      no

    • http://www.chrisreinhard.com Christopher Reinhard

      I think that’s a terrible idea, but thanks for playing.

    • sherlock

      JR is a ball hog, only out for himself player. Always has always will be, one thing the Nuggets have is chemistry. JR would screw it up, I liked JR when he was here for the most part but I don’t think its worth screwing up our core. We can find someone who isn’t as athletic, but can shoot, thats what we need.

      • toluene hawk

        So someone like an Evan Fournier? Wonder if he wants to come to Denver.

        • sherlock

          I’m not following either your sarcasm or just retarded comment. Troll on bro!!

    • heykyleinsf

      I’m not against it.. just not as a starter. JR has talent and can light it up on the outside. With Shaw.. I’m totally open to it. He just won 6th man of the year.. that wasn’t an accident. He deserves credit and may be maturing in to an asset.. he also owned up to playing poorly in the playoffs.

      • toluene hawk

        Thank you Mr. Kyle. Want to be friends?

        • http://Twitter.com/A_Rodriguez8 D3Ntilthe3ND

          you two should get a long really well. :) Do you like Chauncey, toluene?

          • heykyleinsf

            I told you to stay away creep. GO AWAY.

            • http://Twitter.com/A_Rodriguez8 D3Ntilthe3ND

              shut up dude. for real. i can’t reply to anyone on this site now? please…

              • heykyleinsf

                There is no reason to harass me..
                I don’t care about your opinion on the Nuggets..
                You bothering me.. as we both know..crossed
                in to my personal life you stalker..
                I don’t care about Nuggets talk.. you crossed
                a major line you asshole.
                I asked you to stay away.
                WTF is wrong with you psycho??
                You stalk my personal life?
                What’s your problem? Get help asshole.
                Just stay away from me.. can you handle that?
                I still… to this day.. have never commented on
                any of your posts you attention whore.
                You can’t keep it to the Nuggets.
                GO AWAY JERK.

              • http://Twitter.com/A_Rodriguez8 D3Ntilthe3ND

                I didn’t reply to you. & haven’t since you asked me not to..please leave me alone & stop clogging up the comments with this.. thank you.

              • heykyleinsf

                Just stay the F away from me. No need for this, I agree. Just stay the F away from me.

          • toluene hawk

            How did you know?

  • herpderpnuggets

    Was really nice to hear that Shaw wants to develop the young talent that the nuggets have, just need to find a way to get rid of miller….

  • Mikey K

    I’ll admit, I was worried by Masai leaving far more than Karl. Josh’s tenor right after scared me. I’m far more at ease knowing that there seems to be a solid plan in place and it is being followed. I like that Connelly seems to have followed a similar path to Masai. I think that Shaw is a perfect fit for this team–he’s a multiple time champion and has had success as an assistant coach learning from one of the greatest coaches of all time and one of the best young coaches currently in the game. That so many players and coaches have had nothing but great things to say about Shaw also makes me very comfortable with him leading the team.

    I may never LIKE Josh, but right now, I’ll say he’s ok.

  • Josh M

    There is no way the Nuggets can package a trade to get into the lottery. Simply we have nothing to offer outside of Faried and Chandler, and none of the two are expendable. With Gallo’s uncertainty, Chandler becomes a huge piece moving forward. Nobody will take Andre and the rest of the roster outside of Ty is worth taking in exchange for a lotto pick. I see Coach Shaw leaning heavily on Wilson Chandler to make big steps this season and becoming a 18 ppg player. McGee will see a rise in minutes and this should benefit the Nuggets big time! He is ready to explode on the scene and with the lifted responsibility should respond well.

    Hope we can get iggy back but if not we have plenty of money to sign a solid player or two.

  • Native Nugget

    Reading through the posts I’m seeing a higher number of insulting dismals of fellow posters than usual. For what it’s worth I genuinely value being able to extend my reading exposure of the Nuggs by coming to this site. After checking a few articles by the D-Post and other sports sites, I come here to get more in depth takes. The insults only serve to diminish the experience for everyone. Having different perspectives should be embraced as good ol’ fashion b-ball debating.

    • http://Twitter.com/A_Rodriguez8 D3Ntilthe3ND

      I agree. People should also be able to reply to whomever they want.

  • LobCiudad

    Sure hope Shaw is the answer we were looking for. It’s gonna be an exciting season.

  • joefresco

    Good businesses identify good people, get them, keep them, and figure out where they are best used. Bad businesses usually struggle at the last two (losing the top two people involved in quality drafts and trades). While I appreciate the thirst for a championship, I think it’s likely that we peaked this year for quite a while. I hope to be wrong.