The NBA lockout is over and the new season will start on Christmas day. What will Santa Claus bring Denver Nuggets fans?
Its been easy for the Nuggets to be out of sight, out of mind. With TebowMania in full bloom while the NBA owners and players tried to find a way to unlock the season, basketball hasn’t even rated as an afterthought around here. But now we have to wonder aloud…what will this season’s Nuggets look like?
Last February, we had the mega-trade that sent Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the New York Knicks for half of that team’s roster. If that was considered a major overhaul, this season will have to be considered at least a large rebuilding project.
As the lockout dragged on, several NBA players opted to sign contracts with teams in other parts of the world. The vast majority of those players had clauses in their contracts that will allow them to return to the NBA when the season starts. Only the Chinese League would not allow “out” clauses for NBA players. And wouldn’t you know it…the three NBA players who signed to play in China were ALL former Nuggets.
So Kenyon Martin, JR Smith and Wilson Chandler – the latter one of the key pieces of the New York trade – will not be Nuggets this season. That alone qualifies as a facelift for Denver.
Add in a couple new faces from the NBA draft – yes, the Nuggets actually participated in the last one – in Kenneth Faried from Morehead State and Jordan Hamilton from Texas, and the Nuggets will have a new, slightly younger look. Faried is a rebounding machine and will be expected to fill the void left by K-Mart’s departure.
Draft day also brought the return of veteran guard Andre Miller in a trade. What’s old is new, as they say.
Denver is expected to re-sign restricted free agent guard Arron Afflalo, and he will join Ty Lawson in the backcourt. They will also welcome back the other key piece in the Knicks trade, forward Danilo Gallinari, of whom much is expected in the coming seasons.
The big question is big man Nene. He is an unrestricted free agent and can sign anywhere. Things did not end real well between Nene and the organization after last season, so it would be something of an upset if he came back to Denver. That leaves only Timofey Mozgov, Kosta Koufos and an aging Chris Anderson to join the rookie Faried in the front court. Definitely a need there.
The free agent signing period is supposed to start the same day as abbreviated training camps the first full week of December. There are several big men available, guys like Tyson Chandler and Glenn “Big Baby” Davis. Will the Nuggets step up and sign a big time big man?
Prominent scorer Jamal Crawford and a noted sharpshooter Michael Redd are also available, as is Tracy McGrady. Would the Nuggets take a shot at a player like that? Not likely, but you never know. What’s most likely is the Nuggets to their best to resign Nene as they also look to add a mid level veteran in the low post.
All the manoeuvering will result in a team that Nuggets fans will have to learn to love. Will they be good enough to contend for their division title or maybe even more? Only time will tell, of course, but it will be good to get the NBA back and great for the guy who’s selling programs at the Pepsi Center.