Roundball Roundtable: Assessing the front office after the trade deadline

After a turbulent 2013 offseason which raised more questions than answers about the future of the Denver Nuggets, last Thursday’s trade deadline represented a sort of mid-term examination for their young front office. The test was not only to improve the roster, but also to clarify the team’s goals and plans moving forward, and provide at least a glimmer of hope for a future more promising than this increasingly frustrating season would seem to suggest.

And now that the deadline has passed, with the Nuggets making two trades – Jordan Hamilton for Aaron Brooks and Andre Miller for Jan Vesely – it’s time for us here at Roundball Mining Company to take measure of the front office, evaluate their deadline moves, assess how the new regime has done up to this point, and discuss what they need to do from here on out.

Five of your RMC writers give their take after the jump.



The trade deadline ended up being pretty dull, and the Nuggets didn’t do much to spice it up. They made the absolutely necessary moves, but not much else. Andre Miller was finally liberated in a deal which will save them money next season, but unless you’re excited about a potential Jan Vesely and Anthony Randolph pairing, it’s not a deal that will thrill the casual fan.

Denver also desperately needed to get a healthy point guard on the team, and ended up with Aaron Brooks. The initial rumors suggested that the Nuggets were after Beno Udrih, so landing Brooks can be seen as a moral victory on the front office’s part. In his NBA career Brooks has shown that he can heat up and put up some nice scoring performances, but he’s essentially just a rental to fill the void left behind by Nate Robinson.

In the end, the Nuggets weren’t as aggressive as a team in their situation should be. Moving Kenneth Faried was an option, and will continue to be something the front office will likely consider this summer. If Denver ends up in the lottery, which almost certainly will be the case, they could perhaps use Faried to move up in a top-heavy draft.

It’s easy to be mad at the front office for not dropping a bunch of guys and tanking the season, but there weren’t that many potential deals out there that would actually have radically changed the Nuggets’ outlook on the future. Other than Faried, the team has a bunch of interesting players, most of which are on cap friendly contracts, who can be moved at virtually any time. The front office addressed the most imminent needs, and hopefully we’ll see some more drastic changes in the offseason.



Like most teams, the deadline came and went with a bit of a whimper, albeit an expected one, for the Nuggets. Their must-do moves by Thursday at 3 were trading Andre Miller away and acquiring a point guard, and they accomplished both goals. The Miller trade costing Denver a second round pick is not ideal but they acquired some cap relief and cleared a wasted roster spot. As for the physical return of Jan Veseley, I highly doubt his Nuggets tenure extends past this season.

As for Aaron Brooks, he’s not good at a ton of things besides shooting and his ability to actually play point guard is a tad questionable but he’ll take a much needed minutes load off Foye and Lawson (when he gets back) and the cost of Jordan Hamilton – who’s been out of the rotation for a while – is minimal. Ultimately Denver did what they had to do, did it relatively efficiently, and did little more. The Nuggets’ on-court situation becomes less dire with the point guard situation solved, but Denver didn’t really get any better or worse by any meaningful measure. The true mettle of this front office will be tested in the draft and the ensuing weeks thereafter.



With a pair of trade deadline moves the Nuggets finally completed a transition that’s been in the works since 2009. The last of the old, slow point guards (Andre Miller, Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter) is off of the roster. Though Aaron Brooks is a slight downgrade from Nate Robinson and a big downgrade from Ty Lawson, he allows the Nuggets to play the same style – a high speed, paint-attacking offense in the half court as well as in transition – for a full 48 minutes every night.

Picking up Jan Vesely is like getting a free lottery ticket. The Nuggets saved some money and have a chance to evaluate a guy who is still young and may never amount to much, but could potentially blossom into a legitimate energy player. With three of the top six players in #NuggetsRank out for the season, the Nuggets had no chance to do anything worthwhile in the postseason no matter what moves they made. The best management could do was lay a foundation to build with a consistent philosophy next season: fast guards, athletic bigs, and energy at every position. Now it’s up to Kroenke, Connelly, and Shaw to follow up in the offseason.



What exactly is the Nuggets front office trying to accomplish? The fact that nobody within the organization has provided a clear answer to that question has plagued the team all season, and the failure of Kroenke and Connelly to make any significant deadline moves righting Denver’s wayward course is troubling. Not that they accomplished nothing. The salary structure was improved slightly, they made the essential Andre Miller dump, and landed a viable point guard replacement in Aaron Brooks. But these small scale measures accomplish little in addressing the bigger problems with the current roster.

If the FO is truly committed to Shaw and the system he’s trying to implement, they’ve done a poor job of providing him with the players he needs to execute it successfully. He wants to run his offense through the post, but he has no legit post players. He wants a hard-nosed defensive team, but the FO retained a host of sub-par defenders and gave Hickson the full MLE (also hampering flexibility). Additionally, the notion that Karl was fired in part for not doing enough to develop young players directly contradicts the FO’s decision to fill all the empty roster spots with veterans.

This litany of dilemmas could go on interminably. But it seems clear that last summer’s moves were made in desperation to stay marginally competitive, long-term plan be damned, and that the result has been entrenched mediocrity. Their inaction at the deadline both increases the urgency of making bigger moves this offseason, and ramps up the difficulty of doing so. They did little to rectify the deepest flaws in the roster, and – just as importantly – they’ve not only failed to get the fans (and perhaps players) to buy into their vision for the future, they’ve failed to make a convincing case that such a vision even exists at all.



In what turned out to be a dud of a trade deadline Denver did the two things they had to do. First they dumped Andre Miller, someone who hated the organization so much he waited until everyone was out of the team facilities to work out at night so he didn’t have to interact with anyone, and in return got an expiring contract that provides the relatively capped out Nuggets a few million dollars to play with this offseason. Then they finally got a healthy point guard on the roster giving them the ability to eliminate the 40 minute nights for Randy Foye and Ty Lawson for the price of a player that clearly wouldn’t ever fit in Brian Shaw’s defense first philosophy and was a free agent this summer who wouldn’t be returning to Denver anyway. It is hard to really knock the front office for getting rid of two players with no future in Denver while adding a point guard they so desperately needed and some salary relief.

What comes next is the million dollar question. Brian Shaw pretty clearly doesn’t care for the style of players on the roster at the moment and it honestly seems like the players are getting to the point where they don’t care for Coach Shaw. I think it will be hard to actually blow up this roster as, despite Shaw’s insistence on playing a different style than these players are meant for, the front office clearly holds them to a higher value than what they are probably worth. This offseason will be a big one in Denver, if Shaw can get a low post threat and some more size at guard things may turn around. If this roster returns basically intact it can get interesting.



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Joel is a long time Denver Nuggets (and Broncos) fan from Colorado who's been living in Japan since the mid-90s, and blogging about the Nuggets since 2008. You can contact and follow him on Twitter: @denbutsu.
  • Richard Pesicka

    My wife wants me to quit watching the Nuggets. She says I get too pissed and then I can’t sleep when I go to bed. How does Shaw sleep?

    • Cory

      I like that they kept Faried because we can potentially make a sign and trade deal that can land us some real pieces back whatever they may be. Not saying we get much but if he performs we can get players from next years draft or move up. Keep losing Knicks!

      • Dan Sivertson

        I am not following why we want to get rid of Kenneth Faried. Enlighten me with your opinion.

    • Cory

      Don’t expect them to win. Expect them to show heart, work through the kinks, score points and develop(And we know some of this isn’t happening so I know why you get angry). No sense in getting angry because we lose but know that this is necessary for this year because management set us up for this kind of year. Just get through this year my man.

  • Dan Sivertson

    Matt is spot on. The Nuggets won 57 games last year – a distant memory.

    • Bryan

      Certainly more distant than the continued playoff ineptitude.

      • Dan Sivertson

        And you expect THIS team and coaching staff to do better? LOL!

        • sherlock

          Nobody here was expecting better…not this year anyway. LOL!

  • heykyleinsf

    I kind of go along with Tom here… It’s hard to know what we get with the draft and the FA season.. we get back 2 starters and a 6th man.. So much gloom around here. People forget we are getting younger now… we have an exciting draft and offseason to look forward to.. and our stars back healthy next year. I don’t get this apocalyptic mentality. We actually beat the Warriors, Pacers and Clippers with this pickup team. Imagine when we have full health and new exciting blood!!

    • gimpcom187

      Umm its not gloom. Its a youngish team without any all stars or anyone with reasonable thoughts of becoming an all star. Currently capped out for the next 2 seasons. If at any time since december you have considered anything other than seeing this team as needing to be blown up you are delusional.
      Its an 82 game season. Those wins happen for every team in the league who wins 25+ games.

      Its mediocre talent. Mediocre coaching. Front office looks meeiocre too. The only hope is the draft. Wake up!

      • TomRMC

        Ty had a legitimate shot at being an all star this season. Gallo has the potential. JaVale and Faried could both develop into something. It’s not like the team is devoid of talent — just that most of it is in street clothes.

        The cap situation isn’t as bad as people assume, either. The Nuggets aren’t going to score a top level free agent, but they can bring in an MLE and an LLE player, or a player in a S&T for what’s left of the Iggy exception, and stay under the tax line.

        The Nuggets lost three starters for this season (Gallo, McGee, and Iggy) but will probably have 3 or 4 new starters next season, between guys coming back from injury, a good pick, and possibly a trade (I could see Faried being moved if the team picks up a big in the draft.) They could be back to a 55+ win team next season without anything surprising happening.

        • LBJ

          Yes. Hell could freeze over also.

  • Nugman

    I think Dre was the big winner to get out of Denver. I think he could tell Shaw was destroying this team and new it was best to leave. As Matt hints, the other players seem to be catching on to this too. It’s a sad situation when your players start realizing they’re in a no win situation. That creates a losing atmosphere.

    I’m also beginning to wonder if this Shaw system we’ve been hearing about all year really has any substance. We get fast PGs that can push it and athletic bigs that can run the floor, but Shaws system is basically the opposite, I think. I also think everyone forgets that these are NBA players and they can learn different skills if motivated and taught properly. However, it doesn’t appear they are being taught much.

    • gimpcom187

      Shaws offensive “system” only works if you have a top 5 big in the league preferrably 2. Hence that system worked with shaq and when pau/bynum together. Indiana has two bigs easily better than anything on nugs roster and was below average on offense last year. Its time to bring karl back or go full rebuild with trades of ty, faried, chandler.

      • Nugman

        You’re assuming Shaw can even teach ” his system” if we get his players. I doubt he can. I’m really getting tired of hearing the “his system” phrase and it being used as an excuse for losing by 30 every night. This lack of effort excuse is also getting annoying. Over the last 10 years Karl didn’t have effort issues with his teams. Why did just start with Shaw? It’s the HCs job to motivate his players.

        • gimpcom187

          I think youre misreading my post. A system that relies on having one of the top 3 players in the league isnt a system The indication is shaw is a mediocre coach. Inferior to karl which was predictable.

  • LBJ

    Joel – nailed it!

  • heykyleinsf

    I don’t think any conclusions whatsoever can be drawn about Shaw at this point. IDK what people expect with a brand new coach coming in with a roster this decimated. With the bitterness flowing like wine around here..
    WTF did you all expect given all these circumstances?
    It would be really entertaining to read about what we should be doing.
    I’m probably in agreement that HIckson isn’t the answer at starting 5 and it’s kind of ridiculous that Mozzy isn’t getting a chance.
    Also not the biggest Foye fan, and a big Fours fan.. but I also know Shaw values leadership.
    Please find me a year GK had similar to this.
    You can’t.
    Be fair to Shaw.

    • Bryan

      It’s pretty clear that excuses only work for the George Karl apologists. I mean in GK fantasy land, if Gallo hadn’t been injured the Nuggets would have not only beat the Warriors but gone on to be in the finals.

      However, Gallo missing the entire season, McGee missing almost the entire season (and playing injured for the first month), Faried starting the season injured, Ty Lawson being out with injuries several times, Nate Robinson being hurt, and Andre Miller being a malcontent and pouting are not valid excuses.

      Shaw should just coach better. I mean what kind of coach can’t effectively coach a team with no point guards? If Karl were still here he would have just turned Anthony Randolph into a point guard and it’d have been smooth sailing.

      Overall, I agree with your sentiment the front office should be able to get rid of some of the dead weight this off-season, add a lottery pick into the mix, and hopefully bring in guys that fit Shaw’s ideas about being able to play defense and run a half court offense.

      And the roster clearly needs to be retooled since it was mostly built for Karl and it’s been proven over and over again that Karl’s philosophies don’t work in the post season.

      • EWilson

        I agree with this sentiment. People trashing Shaw need to give the man a little time and a healthy roster before declaring him incompetent. If I remember correctly, there was a point when Denver was 13-8 this season and everyone was feeling optimistic.

        Ultimately, I think there’s plenty of evidence that teams that don’t play solid defense, do not advance in the playoffs. After 20+ years of run-and-gun Nuggets’ philosophies based on tiring people out in the altitude of Denver, we have exactly zero championships to appreciate for it. It’s time to try something different.

        To do so, though, the roster is going to need a major retool. I think it’s fair to say that Connelly hasn’t started well with regards to getting players to fit a defensive system, but with the exception of Hickson, most of them are short-term contracts. At the end of this season, Shaw should have a decent idea of who will buy in and who won’t. Then, the retooling can really begin.

    • Dan Sivertson

      Oh. I’ve made my conclusions. LOL. The Nuggets won 57 games last year.

      • LBJ

        I suspect Shaw will prove to be a prime example of the Peter principle – good assistant, bad head guy.

      • Sharkboy242

        And how many playoff games did we win?

        • Dan Sivertson

          It doesn’t matter, if you don’t make the playoffs. You go fishing with the rest of the lottery teams. We’ve got guys on this board that think fishing in the lottery is better than a 57 win season. I disagree.

          • EWilson

            I don’t think fishing in the lottery is better than a 57-win season. But, I think the goal is to win the NBA championship, and last year (& the previous 10) tell me that Karl’s system is great for producing regular season success, but no so hot for going deep in the playoffs.

            The real question regarding last year’s success is whether we would have been able to keep Iguodala if Karl had stayed, and I think the answer is NO. As a result, replicating last year’s 57 wins would have been difficult to do, and would have been impossible for Karl given the rash of injuries the team has sustained. It’s very possible a Karl-led team would still be looking at the lottery this year.

            • Dan Sivertson

              Your suppositions about Igoudala and injuries are just conjecture and nothing more. I share your dissappointment about the playoffs, but you don’t nuke a team that showed record breaking success. You tweak it and improve it.

              • EWilson

                Well, all the comments here are conjecture, including yours. But, if Iguodala leaves even if Karl stays, then you’re going to have to do more than simply tweak things to reproduce your 57-win season. Especially since we KNOW that Gallinari wasn’t going to be ready at the beginning of this season.

      • bmac

        How does the Nugget’s championship banner look in your man cave? Oh right, there isn’t one, and no recognition for winning 57 games other than being thrashed in the first round of they playoffs. I feel we are getting back to that original argument of whether you play for a championship or just play to be entertaining in the regular season. As for me, I will remember the joy of a championship much longer than any joy derived from a great regular season that was immediately squashed by a crappy playoff performance. I am going to bet you subscribe to the “everyone gets a trophy” philosophy for kids playing sports too. It’s about the team that wins the last game.

        • Dan Sivertson

          I’d love to see the Nuggets win a championship as much as anyone. You don’t do it by getting rid of the GM and Coach of the Year. We are in the tank for a long time now. At least we had some fun regular season games to watch last year. Now we have nothing. This team is not worth watching. We are now a grim charade.

  • The Truth

    What’s positive about this FO – Shaw included – is they’ve had to adapt on the fly but stayed the course.

    -McGee started slow before getting hurt. Mozzy starts slow too, so they run more lose/adjust their identity and struggle after a decent start.
    -A Miller freaks over his record and “leaves.” Things settle down with Mozzy improving and the lineup solidifying before DA and Ty get the injury bug.
    -They develop a strong backcourt – minus the TOs -, continue to work Mozzy (he gets chances) before Nate is out for the year on a freak play that changed everything.

    Throughout it all (we’ve seen X’s and O’s on out of bounds plays for the first time in years) the team is trying to implement and balance a system of running that can adapt and play inside out when needed – the winning NBA strategy. This is what is going on for those who are confused.

    Shaw’s learning curve has been too obvious at times, no doubt. Most importantly, he has failed at developing the defense and a defensive culture. If our bigs played
    consistent – get on the boards – D without fouling this team would be a
    .500 squad on GP.

    All in all, the only Shaw haters are the GK lovers who are irked over his departure. Same goes for those who – at this point – want to through dirt on the FO.

    • LBJ

      Meanwhile in the real world, Joshy and Timmy have not made a single good decision since the last season ended. Not one.

      Perhaps you missed the game tonight, as Shaw’s “winning NBA strategy” led to another home court ass kicking from a bad team.

      • The Truth

        The good decision was to end the GK/Moe era, for better or for worse. The winning strategy is not Shaw’s, its just the winning NBA strategy. Shaw’s trying to adapt to what he has and implement it on the fly. If GK would of put as much energy in some X’s and O’s and halfcourt O, as Shaw has put into allowing his team to run and being flexible, GK’s legacy may have been different.

  • jackmcdaniel

    “It’s easy to be mad at the front office for not dropping a bunch of guys and tanking the season, but there weren’t that many potential deals out there that would actually have radically changed the Nuggets’ outlook on the future.”

    It’s easier to be mad at the entire dismantling of a good team and coach! This entire thing is an embarrassment, starting with getting rid of Karl.

  • Cullen

    I think there have been some very, very valid arguments made both within the article and within the message boards:

    First, I think that we cannot possibly make an accurate reading of Brian Shaw. This roster is NOT a roster that fits Shaw’s style of coaching. Yes, I agree that he has been pushed to maximize the roster that he has. I also agree that it is the obligation of the coach to try to maximize the roster he has, but I also think it is incredibly unfair to call him a bad coach based on one season. Yes, I think Mosgov should have started a long time ago and disagree with some of the moves he has made, but I applaud him for making them. Shaw has not been afraid to change it up and make moves in terms of playing time and roster spots. That was one thing I always whole heartedly disagreed with Karl is that he was super stubborn in terms of how he managed his roster.

    I think the Aaron Brooks pick up made a lot of sense. JHam was not going to be playing the kind of basketball that Shaw wanted and now he gets to go to a team that fits the skills he has. He is a shooter and that it is.. and now that is all will be expected of him. Aaron Brooks is a spark plug type player that will provide some flare up to the style of play and fill the gap left by Lawson’s injury.

    I also think there are a TON of injuries this season that have really prevented him from developing this team. JaVale McGee, Gallo, Ty Lawson, Faried, and Miller being a poop face, oh and Nate Robinson. Sure, Karl faced some injuries in his time… but none quite like that and we had over a decade of Karl making excuses.

    Sure, we had a 57 win last year… but it was never going to get better. We can gas teams till they are blue in the face, but when it comes to winning a championship… it will never happen playing that style of ball.

    Need I remind everyone that it took Karl THREE years in his coaching career to ever make the playoffs? Convenient oversight by most.

    I know that I am making excuses for him, but he is a first year coach… I think if anyone deserves some benefit of the doubt it is him.

    I have been really disappointed this year and think there have been TONS of blunders.. and they are down right painful to watch… but I think people that are jumping off Shaw now are being ridiculous.

  • Kody R

    Has anyone else seen how JHam has been doing in Houston so far? I think we are going to regret that trade in the long run..