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. (more…)

Timofey Mozgov, the rise of Denver’s hidden gem

Mid-way through the 2011-12 season, Masai Ujiri decided to take a risk. In return for the ever-steady Nene, Ujiri and the Nuggets would get to inherent all the problems and promise of the raw yet gifted JaVale McGee. The initial risk morphed into a long-term investment in the form of a 4 year, $44 million deal that banked on McGee’s enormous pool of untapped talent to make it a worthwhile endeavor by the time the contract reached its back-end. Big men take awhile to develop, after all, and what’s a few years of limited production if the ultimate gain is an elite big man?

And yet, ironies of ironies, as Ujiri is off cavorting in Toronto and McGee is bench-ridden with injury, it is another raw big man who’s reaped the rewards of quiet development. It’s the forgotten cog that – at the time – almost laughably derailed the Melo trade, who has risen up this season to champion hope for the future.

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Kroenke, Connelly and Shaw’s Nuggets defying expectations

There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
– Stephen Stills

What is going on here?

In the 2013 offseason, Josh Kroenke and Tim Connelly made a series of roster moves which did not seem to some observers (including many here at Roundball Mining Company) to be internally consistent or part of any apparent cohesive long-term plan for building a roster which could ultimately contend for a championship. Masai Ujiri and Andre Iguodala had bailed, George Karl had been fired, and the new player acquisitions were looking a lot like band-aid solutions to major arterial bleeding. (more…)

Repercussions of moving in different directions

A few nights ago I was watching college basketball. This year’s impressive crop of college freshman were on display, all turning in big performances. One of those players was Jabari Parker. My goodness, Jabari Parker. I’ve been watching college basketball with an eye focused on scouting for three to four years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player dominate the way he has right from the start. And the crazy thing? Jabari Parker isn’t even ranked as the top prospect on the few scouting websites I trust most — which kinda got me thinking about the Nuggets, as I often do in life when I start thinking deeply about anything. I pondered the Nuggets draft situation this upcoming year, the fact the Nuggets have only one pick instead of two — which they originally had but changed when they sent one of those picks to Orlando in the Arron Afflalo trade — and how the Nuggets lost a lot more than just Andre Iguodala when he left this past summer. But what I thought about most, what I kept coming back to, was that…

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Media Day report

Every year, roughly one month prior to the NBA regular season kicking off, the Denver Nuggets host an annual Media Day press conference. This event gives media from around the Denver metro area the opportunity to (kindly) interrogate the players, coaches and team executives about all things Nuggets in preparation for the upcoming season. This marks the second year in a row that Roundball Mining Company has had the privilege to attend Media Day, and just like last year there was a definitive buzz about the arena given the changes that took place during the offseason. Here is a recap of the day’s action…

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Have the Nuggets taken “the greatest risk a team can take”?

Recently, Mark Cuban wrote a very revealing and intriguing blog post on the Dallas Mavericks’ recent offseason maneuvers. This was brought to my attention by Matt Moore’s insightful reaction to Cuban’s post. As they are really great reads, I would highly recommend reading both in their entirety before proceeding. Cuban’s post is here at BlogMaverick.com, and Moore’s article is here at CBSSPORTS.com.

The central theme of both is the conundrum of what to do with an aging superstar, and how that decision may impact short- and long-term team building. Is it best to trade him for draft picks and other young assets, tanking for the hope of the next draft superstar and sacrificing current success for future gains? Or to take a win-now-at-all-costs approach and milk the value of that star for all he’s worth while you can? Or alternately, choose a middle ground in an effort to have your cake and eat it, too?

In 2011, under Masai Ujiri’s competent guiding hand, the Nuggets successfully delayed facing this music when (more…)

5-on-5: New front office appraisal

It’s been several months since the NBA’s reigning GM of the Year, Masai Ujiri, was inexplicably let go by the Nuggets and replaced with Tim Connelly. Since that time the Nuggets have made a variety of eyebrow-raising moves that have accented the most turbulent offseason in recent memory. Now, in light of the Nuggets’ recent completion of putting together a full 15-man roster under the new regime, our team at RMC will divulge our first impressions of Connelly and Co.’s transactions in our latest 5-on-5. As always, we encourage you voice your answers to the following questions in the comments section below.

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Delayed Reaction: 2012-2013 season in review

A look at the rollercoaster year of Nuggets basketball

Hopes were high for the Nuggets at the end of the 2012 offseason, with some analysts predicting up to 59 wins and a top two playoff seed.  Masai Ujiri had acquired Olympic gold medalist and star defender Andre Iguodala in a trade, and extended Ty Lawson and JaVale McGee with long-term contracts.  He surrounded the team’s young core with veteran Andre Miller and cheap talent like Anthony Randolph and Evan Fournier.

But a difficult early schedule loomed.  The Nuggets would play 22 of their first 32 games on the road, including 8 sets of back-to-back games.  By the end of November, the team had a pair of four game winning streaks sandwiched in between three losing streaks of three games each, including worrying losses to the lowly Suns and Magic.

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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. (more…)

Nuggets’ new front office taking shape in familiar fashion

The Nuggets announced the hiring of Ben Tenzer as director of team operations on Friday, a move that signifies the first management shakeup under new GM Tim Connelly and one more step in a complete tear-down of the front office responsible for the 2012-2013 executive of the year award.
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What to make of the Nuggets’ front office exodus

On Wednesday, Josh Kroenke continued his all-out assault on the Nuggets front office after the most successful regular season in franchise history. The Denver Post’s Chris Dempsey is reporting the Nuggets have lost two more front office members in director of player personnel, Mike Bratz, and scouting director Dan Tolzman. While Bratz’s future remains up in the air, the Post’s Benjamin Hochman is reporting Tolzman has taken a “director-level scouting job” with the Raptors. The number of front office members to leave the Nuggets organization this summer now stands at four — and counting.

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Nuggets news: Karl talks, Gallo walks and Iggy opts out

A lot’s happened in the last 24 hours surrounding Denver Nuggets. George Karl has been making the rounds with the Denver media sharing what he calls “his side of the story,” in regards to his dismissal as Nuggets head coach last week. Meanwhile, Danilo Gallinari claims his knee was never as bad as we all thought, and Andre Iguodala… well, yeah…

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Link: Josh Kroenke in sole control of team vision as Nuggets president

Benjamin Hochman, Nuggets beat writer for The Denver Post, recently published an article answering many of the questions fans have been asking about the current turmoil withing the Nuggets organization. He covers both the primary reasons for why Masai Ujiri fled to Toronto and why George Karl was let go before his current contract expired. This is a must read for any Nuggets fan as it outlines the current shift in power within the organization that will likely affect the team for years to come. As Hochman states in his title, it’s becoming more and more clear that Josh Kroenke is running the show.

Karl fired: What we know (with reaction!)

What. Just. Happened?

It’s been over 12 hours since news first broke of Karl’s firing and I’m still not entirely convinced this isn’t all some crazed, sports-obsessed dream. After all, I was bedridden yesterday due to food poisoning and I could have sworn I was delusional for at least a few minutes. These things happen, right? People enter trance-like states for extended periods on a regular basis… don’t they? Can someone pinch me? PLEASE?!?!

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JaVale McGee – The Stain Masai Ujiri Leaves Behind

If you’re a chocolate enthusiast you’ve probably experienced the irritating stains the delectable dainty can often leave behind. I’m sure most people have one or two white shirts in the wardrobe with subtle traces of the brown substance imprinted onto the fabric, which refuse to vanish no matter how many times they’ve been washed. In the NBA, general managers come and go, but their errors often linger even when they are long gone. Thus the pressure on a GM is excruciating, as one careless decision can set a team back for years to come, and even if they end up losing their job, a stain of their tenure often remains as a constant reminder of their regime. (more…)

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