More Ujiri rumors: Does a glimmer of hope remain?

There was a sudden whirlwind of rumors and reports last Friday during the time leading up to and just after Masai Ujiri met with the Raptors to discuss the possibility of leaving the Nuggets to take the helm at Toronto’s front office. But hings quickly went silent thereafter, and few whispers have been heard on the matter since the tumultuous events of last weekend.

However, Steve Kyler, editor and publisher of Hoopsworld and an NBA writer for USA Today, was recently answering some questions on Twitter (follow him here), and if his sources are accurate, his responses could possibly shed some new light on some of the details, and perhaps even provide Nuggets fans with a ray of hope (albeit dim) in the gloom of the ongoing Ujiri saga. (more…)

Is Ujiri on the brink of leaving Denver?

Earlier today Yahoo!Sports.com’s Adrien Wojnarowski reported the Nuggets ownership granted the Raptors permission to speak with Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri in Denver. In his article Woj states that, “Unless Denver responds soon with a market-value contract extension to keep its general manager, Ujiri is prepared to leave Denver,” and how, “Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke is aggressively pursuing Ujiri to become the Raptors’ general manager.”

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Andre Iguodala undecided on contract options

Andre Iguodala faces a big decision this summer which will have massive implications for the Denver Nuggets.

He can choose to complete the final year of his contract next season at the hefty salary of $16.2 million. Alternately, he can exercise his early termination option (ETO), becoming an unrestricted free agent and either working out a longer-term deal with the Nuggets or signing elsewhere. (more…)

Heritage, eras, and the new Nuggets skyline jerseys

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…)

The Denver Nuggets have paid the 11th most in luxury tax

The NBA’s big spenders will soon have to reckon with a much more punitive luxury tax structure. From the league’s implementation of the tax in 2003, teams have been required to pay “just” one dollar in luxury tax for every dollar in payroll that exceeds the tax threshold. This relatively soft penalty on an already soft salary cap will soon undergo significant changes. Cap guru Larry Coon describes the new luxury tax conditions under the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will kick into effect next year:

Starting in 2012-13, teams pay an incremental tax that increases with every $5 million above the tax threshold ($1.50, $1.75, $2.50, $3.25, etc.). Teams that are repeat offenders (paying tax at least four out of the past five seasons) have a tax that is higher still — $1 more at each increment ($2.50, $2.75, $3.50, $4.25, etc.).

The desired effect is that these heavier penalties will give pause to even the deepest pocketed, biggest spending owners such as the Knicks’ James Dolan, the Lakers’ Jerry Buss, and the Mavericks’ Mark Cuban, when it comes to dishing out big bucks on salaries. (Though many might point to this summer’s free agency period as evidence the dissuasive effect has been minimal so far).

With the Kroenke family at the helm, the Denver Nuggets have been in the upper strata of teams with wealthy owners. According to (more…)

3-on-3: Big man moves

This past week was a very active one from the Nuggets’ standpoint. In addition to competing in the Las Vegas Summer League, the Nuggets amnestied Chris “Birdman” Andersen, signed Anthony Randolph and re-signed JaVale McGee. To gain a better understanding of what these moves entail, we’ve called upon our writers to dish out analysis in true Roundball Mining Company fashion — also known as 3-on-3. With three different big man scenarios, this edition will aim to attach three different words from three different writers to each of the players discussed.

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3-on-3: The summer of one

The latest edition of our ongoing 3-on-3 series centers around one — one player that intrigues each of our writers in three different areas of the game. With hardly any roster space left for free agents, a serious need for star power and a Summer League team boasting with young talent, the fact remains: The Nuggets could certainly use an adjustment or two. Though we aren’t general managers and don’t control the fluidity of the roster, we can at least point out several players that we feel would benefit the Nuggets in some fashion — which is exactly what we aim to do, 3-on-3 style.

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JaWilt McChamberlain update

Recently, CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger reported negotiations between JaVale McGee and the Denver Nuggets are “going well.” On July 6, NBA.com’s David Aldridge reported the Nuggets are continuing to “grind it out” with McGee and his team of representatives.

All has been fairly quiet on the McGee front this summer. Considering how well Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke cajoled Nene, Arron Afflalo and Danilo Gallinari into re-signing last year, fans have almost come to expect Nuggets free agents to be back with the team when their deals expire.

McGee has been open about his desire to re-sign with the Nuggets. While he has yet to discuss contract details with other teams, Aldridge is reporting that Indiana and Portland could both be in the mix for his services should negotiations with the Nuggets deteriorate. Other teams with considerable cap room include Charlotte, Houston, Minnesota, Toronto, Cleveland, Sacramento, Milwaukee, Phoenix, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

It’s worth noting that this is McGee’s first opportunity to cash in on a big payday. In the life of an NBA player, these windows are usually few and far between. When coming off their rookie contracts players are eager as ever to hit the jackpot. Being that McGee is a legitimate, starting-caliber center (a rare commodity in today’s NBA), his value is that much more inflated.

The number to watch is 10… million, that is. Anything below that figure for an annual paycheck is reasonable; anything above it is exorbitant. It’s likely McGee settles close to that number even though his true value lies somewhere in the $6-9 million per year range.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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Denver Nuggets Zeitgeist: Coach in control?

The 2012 NBA Draft went like a lot of people thought it wouldn’t. With their first selection the Nuggets took a European player on virtually nobody’s radar and with their second selection they took someone high on everyone’s radar… the first-round radar, that is. Immediately following the Draft there was, for the most part, a negative and visceral outburst by fans (and columnists) in reaction to the surprise selection, and while the visceral part is understandable, the negative deserves some perspective.

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2011-12 Denver Nuggets season review (and future outlook)

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.

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Nuggets sign Wilson Chandler for 5 years, $37 million

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.

Analyzing the Nene for JaVale McGee Trade

In order to wrap my head around the trade that sent longtime Denver Nugget Maybyner “Nene” Hilario to the Washington Wizards I had to compartmentalize my thoughts and feelings into several different categories.  I will go through them one at a time in order to attempt to break down a trade that took everyone by surprise.

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Trade Deadline Digest

This post will be updated throughout the day with any significant developments surrounding the Nuggets at the trade deadline.

For those wondering if the Nuggets will shake things up, it does not appear that Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri have any moves planned — even minor ones. However, this has been one of the wildest trade seasons in recent memory and the amount of chatter going on suggests we could see a lot of activity just before the deadline.

The Nuggets are still trying to sign Wilson Chandler amid all this, and that decision may be the key in terms of what, if any, moves might happen at the trade deadline. Chandler and his agent have set an arbitrary deadline of Friday for the Nuggets to sign him long term, after which they are threatening to sign in Italy for the rest of the season.

If the Nuggets sign Chandler or are confident they eventually will, it might be prudent to use this opportunity to shed some salary or swap assets to ensure Chandler plays a significant role and earns whatever contract he receives.

Conversely, if the Nuggets plan to wait out Chandler till July, when he’ll again be a restricted free agent, then it seems unlikely they would be inclined to make even a minor move. They’ll have plenty of opportunity to create flexibility after the season is over.

Chandler’s deadline is artificial, meaning there is no actual rule preventing the Nuggets from signing him after Friday. The threat coming from Chandler is that he will remove himself from negotiations and go to Italy for the rest of the season. That would preclude the Nuggets from signing and trading him next season, but also make it more difficult for teams to acquire him. His options are already limited as a restricted FA and such a move would limit them further, especially with the Nuggets maintaining the right match any offer.

Here’s the latest tidbit on Chandler from ESPN’s Chris Broussard:

 The Nuggets continue to negotiate with Wilson Chandler and if the sides don’t reach an agreement within the next week or so, Chandler’s agent Chris Luchey says his client will finish the season in Italy. Chandler is looking for a deal starting around $7 million a year, but the Nuggets feel like paying him $7 million, which would not be prorated, for this season is way too high. They would rather start him at $5 million.

I have no idea what will happen, but I wouldn’t rule anything out. The Nuggets have more assets than just about anybody at the trade deadline. They are in position to be buyers, sellers, or both. Every contract on the books is reasonable and they are one of the few teams holding a large trade exception, ($7 million from the Raymond Felton deal). Masai has surprised us before and there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t do it again.

Remember, this post will be updated with any developments should they occur. As of now, the Nuggets haven’t been linked to any potential trades.

Interesting developments on Wilson Chandler front

In a recent New York Post article Peter Vecsey points out that if Chandler were to sign in Italy for the remainder of the season, he would then “forfeit the ability to do a sign-and-trade come summer — one of the CBA’s multitude of new rules.” Essentially, this makes re-signing Chandler even more critical than before for a couple reasons.

First, once summer arrives many teams will have freed up enough cap space to make the type of offer that would cripple the Nuggets salary flexibility if they decided to match. In theory the Nuggets could deal Chandler that following winter before the trade deadline to avoid paying his salary but the fact remains, having Chandler as a tradable asset this summer allows much more room for the team to improve heading into next year.

If he were to sign in Italy, then come back to the States and agree to an offer the Nuggets would cringe at matching, (assuming they would in fact match) this would basically erase most of the team’s cap room and in the process prevent it from making much-needed additions to the roster through free agency. Additionally, the thought of the Nuggets letting Chandler walk for nothing becomes an actual possibility rather than a nightmare, which is something Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke have attempted to avoid for quite some time. What if, for example, the Nuggets manage to get themselves into heavy contract negotiations with a player like Kevin Garnett, Chris Kaman or Gerald Wallace? Letting Chandler walk in order to sign someone like them then becomes an all too realistic scenario with all the work the Nuggets front office did in order to retain him as an asset, then flying out the window in the process.

In a way, these new details that have come to light might actually expedite contract negotiations and ensure Chandler returns to the Nuggets for at least the rest of the 2011-12 campaign. Now that he has leverage Chandler can tell the Nuggets to either pony up and give him the money he wants, or suffer the consequences by relinquishing the right to sign-and-trade him this summer. Either way, Chandler is getting paid and in all likelihood the Nuggets will be the ones dishing out the dollars. At this point, sacrificing a few more million bucks this year could go a long way in ensuring more talent arrives in Denver in the foreseeable future.

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Nuggets News: Preparing for Wilson Chandler

On Saturday the Denver Nuggets chose to waive DeMarre Carroll, according to Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post. With next Tuesday’s deadline that demands all NBA contracts become guaranteed and Wilson Chandler still not re-signed, waiving Carroll was the simplest way to ensure a roster spot remains open for Chandler upon his return to the NBA sometime in the near future.

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