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Unfulfilled Potential Leads to Intriguing Offseason

By Dave Bruning

The 2010 NBA season began with lofty expectations for the Denver Nuggets. The 2010 NBA season crashed to earth Friday night as the Nuggets were eliminated in six games by the Utah Jazz. Denver showed tremendous heart in trying to steal a playoff road game. Unfortunately, they also displayed moments of poor judgment and immaturity as a roster that must change. The Nuggets are at a crossroad and face some difficult decisions this offseason.

Denver is an extremely talented, yet enigmatic and borderline dysfunctional group of basketball players. J.R. Smith is the poster child and Kenyon Martin is his uncle. When games are tight and smart basketball needs to be played, Smith and Martin shrink from the challenge. If anything, these situations bring out the worst in their respective games. A roster shake up would benefit the Nuggets.

The summer of 2010 is the free agent bonanza of the NBA. A package Martin, Smith and a future first round pick might be enticing enough to get Chris Bosh from Toronto in a sign and trade deal. I’m not a salary cap expert, but Martin and Smith have expiring contracts after next season and a deal could likely be worked out. Toronto is not likely to retain Bosh in my opinion. This trade gives them assets for a season, additional trade options and a first round draft pick. Denver would feature a core of Melo, Bosh, Billups and Nene, improving young guards Aaron Afflalo and Ty Lawson, and nice role players Birdman, Johan Petro and Joey Graham. I also like the flexibility of Melo, who could play shooting guard or either forward spot. Lastly, this would remove much of the volatility from the Denver locker room. Just a thought.

Perhaps just as important is the status of George Karl. He continues his recovery from throat cancer. It has been an arduous process to say the least. Karl was recently readmitted to the hospital because of a blood clot in his leg. His coaching status for the future is unsure. First and foremost, he must get healthy – a wish of all Denver fans. The Nuggets downward spiral began when they lost their coach. Is it fair to fans, players or even Karl to try and go through this again next year?

There are two intriguing options the Nuggets should consider. My favorite is bringing back Larry Brown, the current coach of the Charlotte Bobcats. Brown has always been a coaching nomad, and one of his first gigs was in Denver. I think he could be lured back. With or without a trade, Brown is one of the few coaches who could not only handle the Nuggets, but maximize their talent. At this point in his career a final chance at a title would certainly perk Brown’s interest. The other option is Byron Scott. He has had success in New Jersey and New Orleans. He, too, is the kind of no nonsense, hands-on coach Denver needs. Neither of these scenarios is particularly fair to Karl. Nobody knows better than Karl the NBA is a business first.

Lastly, Denver has two vice presidents with expiring contracts, Mark Warkentien and Rex Chapman. I don’t know much about Warkentien. I do like Chapman. Both men have respected reputations as front office managers.

The Denver Nuggets have a busy off season in front of them. With inspired thinking and a bold move or two, they just might be playing basketball at this time next year instead of dwelling on where things went wrong.

3 comments:

  1. For the most part, I couldn't agree more. Wait and see with Karl could be costly and JR Smith has already punched his ticket. Kenyon is interesting, however, as he is the only semblance of defensive basketball we have underneath. I would prefer a package that sent JR and oft injured Nene packing. Still agree, status quo will not work next season.

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  2. I think if Denver gets Bosh, it would be for Nene, JR and future first... then we would prob have to flip K-Mart for a center like Dalembert

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  3. I would prefer an Okafur over a Dalembert to team up with Bosh. I have liked the Idea of getting Bosh for a while now and agree we need to pursue him. Melo and Chauncy need to talk to Bosh and start showing him around Denver!

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