I can’t lie. I’ve thought about writing this article for years. Years. After each futile, heartless, disappointing exit in the first round of the playoffs, I was so ready to write this article that I couldn’t sleep. This year was no different. This year I wanted it just as bad as I have for the last several years. And yet, here it is, less than a week since Karl was let go, and I’m not sure I even want to write it anymore.
Masai Ujiri leaving the Denver Nuggets has the potential to be one of the most devastating franchise decisions the Kroenke family has ever made. Conversely, the Nuggets might hire the next Masai Ujiri and be just fine. Either way, the decision to let him speak with the Raptors and ultimately sign with his former Canadian squad said something about the Nuggets as a franchise. It said something about the Kroenkes and it said something about the order of the Nuggets’ priorities. Our writers have a few ideas about what that something is, which we’ve laid out below in our latest Roundball Roundtable.
Taking the pulse of the Nuggets every weekend
Current record: 45-22
Last week: 3-0 (2-0 home, 1-0 road)
Current playoff seed: #5, 0.5 games behind #4 Memphis and #3 LA Clippers. The Clippers hold the tie breaker over both Memphis and Denver (due to winning their division), while Denver holds the tie breaker over Memphis (due to a 3-1 head to head record).
The Nuggets finished another undefeated week by taking down the Memphis Grizzlies in a slow-paced, grind-it-out game, picking up an important tiebreaker in the process. They also embarrassed the Knicks in Carmelo Anthony’s return to Denver, and picked up a road win in a blowout in Phoenix. Denver has the longest active winning streak in the Western Conference at 11 games. Kosta Koufos had the best week of his career, averaging 15.3 points and 12 rebounds over three games. Coach George Karl had the team ready to play all week and made good substitutions in the face of individual players’ game-to-game inconsistency.
This week’s games: Monday at Chicago, Tuesday at Oklahoma City, Thursday vs Philadelphia, Saturday vs Sacramento
The Nuggets spoiled Carmelo Anthony’s return to Denver with a blowout win. ‘Melo left the game with a sore knee and spent some time in the locker room, inspiring chants of “where is Melo” from the crowd.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 25 MIN | 4-13 FG | 7-7 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | +17
Gallinari looked really good when he went to the rim or got to the line, and really awful shooting jumpers. He played great defense on Carmelo Anthony for part of the first quarter, and later forced two turnovers by drawing offensive fouls away from the ball.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 25 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-6 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +28
Faried started out the game taking several jump shots. He eventually settled down and started taking shots closer to the rim, but missed several tip tries. He outhustled the Knicks for several offensive rebounds, particularly after Tyson Chandler left the game.
|Kosta Koufos, C 18 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-1 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +13
It seems like every game I grade, I end up writing something like “Koufos was quietly effective”. He continues to play fundamental basketball with good positioning, and make the most of his opportunities.
|Ty Lawson, PG 26 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +11
Ty was aggressive getting into the paint all night, but had a bit of trouble finishing over Tyson Chandler. His shot was falling from the outside and his passing was crisp. He would likely have finished with a double double if Gallinari’s shot had been falling.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 33 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-6 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 14 PTS | +32
Igoudala has emerged as a solid secondary playmaker for the Nuggets, setting up a ton of easy scores. Tonight he tried to do a little too much and forced several passes into traffic. He was hitting his own shots from everywhere except the free throw line. He had a few spectacular defensive sequences in the second half.
|Anthony Randolph, PF 3 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1
|Jordan Hamilton, SF 12 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -5
On one late sequence, Hamilton missed a jumper that led to a Knicks fast break off the long rebound, and then got downcourt in time to swat James White’s layup attempt into the stands. His shot wasn’t falling, but he was making good contributions in other parts of the game.
|Corey Brewer, SF 21 MIN | 3-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +6
Brewer usually provides the Nuggets with great energy, but tonight the starters had all the energy they needed, and he seemed a step slow by comparison. He did a little bit of everything, but nothing particularly well.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 9 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -2
Mozgov was involved in two highlights tonight: a nice two handed dunk, and a Prigioni pass between his legs that led to a Knicks layup.
|JaVale McGee, C 12 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -5
In a game where the Nuggets were completely dominant in the paint, and the Knicks’ only center left with an injury, the athletic seven footer decided to take a 16 foot jumper that missed everything. He also had one nice block and a layup from freakishly far away from the basket. It was a very inconsistent game overall.
|Andre Miller, PG 25 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +13
Andre Miller surprised me by playing fantastic defense for most of his first half minutes. He was also on target with his passing.
|Evan Fournier, SG 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -2
Fournier looks completely lost on the defensive end of the court, and too often gets caught needing to foul. He stepped up offensively when tacos seemed to be in doubt, setting up Chandler for a three point play and scoring five of his own to push the Nuggets over the 110 point mark.
|Wilson Chandler, SG 25 MIN | 9-12 FG | 5-8 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 24 PTS | +10
Wilson Chandler spent most of the night taking advantage of the Knicks’ lack of shot blocking. On two occasions he grabbed a rebound, dribbled fullcourt, and got a lightly contested layup.
The Nuggets came out ready to play, and they didn’t let up until the game was out of reach. His small lineups worked well against the Knicks’ small lineups.
It’s been over two years since Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Knicks. To this point he’s still yet to step foot inside Pepsi Center without being a member of the Denver Nuggets. Tonight, this will change. Tonight, Melo will become will endure a long-awaited basketball baptism and become free once and for all.
Staking a Claim is a new column that will be taking a look at all things Nuggets through the eyes of an outsider. As those who follow me on Twitter know I am a Bucks fan, so it will give Nuggets fans an opportunity to see things through the eyes of someone who follows the team closely but isn’t necessarily a fan. Please leave any subjects that you would like to see addressed in the future in the comments below or send them to me on Twitter @Matt_Cianfrone.
As I have gotten to know Nuggets fans more in depth one thing keeps coming up when complaints get voiced, the teams recent run of making the playoffs before flaming out in the first round. While there is understandable frustration, especially as the possibility of it occurring again this season is there, though looking less and less likely, I ask Nuggets fans to do one thing.
The Denver Nuggets faced old friend Carmelo Anthony tonight in New York and Carmelo proved to be too much as Denver’s bid to be the first team to deliver the Knicks with their first home loss of the 2012-13 season ended in another disappointment.
It has been a while since I wrote up an old school game recap so tonight is as good a time as any, although I am not planning on staying up until 4:00 AM to bang out 3,000 words as I used to when I was a younger man.
After a lengthy delay, coming in at number three in our #NuggetsRank series is starting small forward Danilo Gallinari. Despite possessing perhaps the best combination of skill and athleticism on the Nuggets’ entire roster, Gallo trailed behind the top two in our #NuggetsRank voting and ends up as the popular pick for third-best player on the team.
Shortly after the big trade last August, we took a look back at a game in which Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller had helped the Philadelphia 76ers defeat the Denver Nuggets. Now it’s time for a similar retrospective of a game from a period when Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari were playing some of the best basketball of their careers: the first half of the 2010-11 season. The date was December 12, 2010, and the New York Knicks beat the Nuggets 129-125 just months before the Carmelo Anthony trade. (more…)
With the 2012-13 Nuggets season right around the corner it’s time for Roundball Mining Company to introduce the first of several season previews. This one comes in the form of our ongoing 5-on-5 series. Joining Charlie, Joel, Jeremy and I to make predictions and dish out opinions on the upcoming season is loyal reader, Joe Beebe. If you’d like to participate in a future 5-on-5 article remember to follow us on Twitter.
The post-Carmelo Anthony era of the Denver Nuggets began, of course, on the day he was traded to New York. That day would mark a historic sea change in the Nuggets culture, and in its wake the newly assembled team handled what could have been a much rougher transition remarkably well, closing out the season with an 18-7 record that few would have thought possible. Despite continued success (relative to expectations around the league) in the following season, the NBA lockout and injuries deprived Denver of the full training camp, preseason and 82-game regular season they really needed to take the team to the next level. (more…)
Many readers have asked, specifically, what the Nuggets gave up and received in Friday’s trade. Though I still can’t find a single article that confirms all aspects of the trade, I have been able to gather bits and pieces from various sources across the Internet. Here are my findings:
Received: Andre Iguodala
Sent: Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, a 2013 second-round draft pick (via Golden State) and a 2014 first-round draft pick (either Denver’s own or via New York)
Both of the picks sent to Orlando may end up being ones the Nuggets obtained from New York in the Carmelo Anthony trade. The 2013 second-round pick is from Golden State while the 2014 first-round pick will either be Denver’s own, or New York’s. According to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, the 2014 first-round pick conveyed to Orlando will be the least desirable of the Nuggets two picks that year.
Looking towards the future, the Nuggets now have two picks in the 2013 NBA Draft: their own first rounder and a second-round, top-40 protected selection from the Portland Trailblazers. Denver’s own second-round pick is conveyed to the Phoenix Suns and is also top-40 protected. Assuming the Nuggets re-sign Ty Lawson, they will then have three roster openings from the expiring contracts of Julyan Stone, Timofey Mozgov and Corey Brewer. If the Nuggets retain both picks they will then be left with one open roster spot to sign a free agent, however given Masai Ujiri’s penchant for perpetual activity, there’s a good chance the team’s current roster and draft-pick situation will change yet again.
Heading into the 2011-12 season the Denver Nuggets were a mystery waiting to be solved. After coming off the most chaotic seven months in franchise history the team made monumental strides in the offseason to remain competitive even after parting ways with Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. In addition, the NBA lockout saw key contributors Wilson Chandler, Kenyon Martina and J.R. Smith all vanish to the opposite side of the world until midseason, leaving even more questions marks about who would be with the team moving forward. But as the season progressed, piece by piece Nuggets fans collected clues about the identity and subsequent standards the team would possess, which ended up being very similar to years past.
In Roundball Mining Company’s first postseason reflection piece we’ll be taking a look at the evolution of the Denver Nuggets over the last year and examine what we’ve learned about the team throughout the process. Though the Nuggets have laid the foundation for the future through savvy front-office dealings there’s still quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding the roster. Therefore, our most recent 3-on-3 aims to analyze certain aspects of the present, past and future. As always, feel free to hand out your answers to these questions in the comments section below.
Closure can be a wonderful thing.
One of the stranger free agent pursuits in recent history has finally come to an end. As first reported by the Denver Post, restricted free agent Wilson Chandler agreed to a five year contract with the Nuggets worth $37 million.
There’s no doubt this is a big win for Wilson, who missed out on true free agency by signing to play in China during last summer’s NBA lockout. Wilson’s only option in terms of rejoining the league this year was to sign with Denver.
Chandler’s deal averages $7.4 million a year and is nearly identical to the base value of Arron Afflalo’s new contract. Afflalo’s deal contains incentives that could bump the value up to $43 million over five years.
My initial view is that this is fair deal, but an incredibly generous offer to make to someone in Wilson Chandler’s position. There’s no doubt shedding Nene’s $13.5 million annual salary and the amount given to Arron Afflalo in restricted free agency were key factors in the long, drawn out negotiations that finally culminated in today’s deal.
More reaction and analysis to the Chandler signing will be coming soon, but I personally believe this a solid move for Denver and something they needed to get done. To put it in perspective, both Chandler and Gallo’s new contracts add up to roughly the max salary figure Carmelo Anthony makes over the life of his extension, which was reportedly being offered to him by the Nuggets brass (although I seriously doubt it after watching Masai and Josh run things the way they have over the past year and a half).
Chandler is one of the more unique threes in the league, who excels on the wing offensively but is probably best suited to defending the post, where he has the strength to match up on taller players and the defensive instincts to provide much needed weak side help. Chandler should be in great shape having played ball virtually all summer long and I wouldn’t be surprised if he immediately picks up starters minutes.