Denver Nuggets' Disaster Plan with Departure of Andre Iguodala

Nick JuskewyczContributor IIIJuly 6, 2013

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 28:  Andre Iguodala #9 of the Denver Nuggets drives against Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors during Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on April 28, 2013 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

What a slap in the face for the Denver Nuggets

Not only is Andre Iguodala joining the team that knocked the Nuggets out of the playoffs last season, he waited until most of the shooting guards had already signed with other franchises.

Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday that Iguodala agreed to terms with the Golden State Warriors on a four-year deal worth $48 million. What's even tougher for Denver to swallow is that, according to Wojnarowski, Denver offered Iguodala a better deal than he took with the Warriors.

Just moments after the news, Ty Lawson certainly wasn't happy.

Now where do the Nuggets turn? Shooting guards Tony Allen, J.R. Smith and Kevin Martin have already reached their agreements even though contracts can't become official until July 10.

Denver is in a very stressful place. 


Option A: Sign Monta Ellis

The bottom line is that there are no shooting guards left that are as valuable or diverse as Iggy. The Nuggets are still tied up with almost $52 million in guaranteed money for the 2013-14 season, according to Hoopsworld. There isn’t a lot of flexibility, but there is still a little bit of room left for Denver to make something happen

There is still one guard remaining who stands above the rest—Monta Ellis. The Nuggets are now in serious pursuit of Monta after losing Iguodala, according to

Acquiring Ellis would be a huge score for Denver in regard to his speed, scoring and passing. He can play in the pick-and-roll, on the fast break and catch fire from three. He can also create his own shot and is superb at finding ways to score at the rim.

Monta is also small for a shooting guard at 6'3", but he’s had experience playing the 2 beside Brandon Jennings in Milwaukee.

That leads to the downside of this. Ellis and Jennings had some good moments and some bad ones. Both guards were scorers and took turns on who was going to be the go-to guy.

Ellis would be in the same situation with Lawson.

Granted Lawson and Iggy were both scorers to a certain extent, but they were both completely different types of players. Ellis is more similar to Lawson than Iguodala in regard to their statistics, physical size and getting by defenders with their speed.

Brian Shaw would need to come up with another scheme than the dribble-drive motion offense for a starting lineup of Lawson, Ellis, Danilo Gallinari (once he recovers from his ACL injury), Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee. There would need to be a stronger emphasis on pick-and-rolls in creating mismatches along with getting Ellis the ball off of baseline screens and curls.  

It’s not that Ellis and Lawson can’t coexist, but it is a challenge and a learning process. Lawson is signed through the 2016-17 season, and Ellis isn't the type of player Denver would sign for just one or two years.

If Shaw has a plan for the two, it has the potential to be one of the most dangerous backcourts in the NBA.


Option B: Sign Gary Neal

According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Gary Neal is unlikely to sign with the San Antonio Spurs after they landed Marco Belinelli. Neal is a restricted free agent and was extended his qualifying offer, but he has been offered more money from other teams, according to Stein and Ramona Shelburne of

While Neal won't provide the rebounding, passing or explosiveness that Iguodala can, he would be an excellent deep threat and solid defender on the perimeter.

Just ask the Miami Heat.

Neal is entering his fourth season and has averaged a steady 9.7 points in 21.4 minutes in his career. If he worked his way into the starting five with Denver and saw around 27 minutes, Neal could be that consistent and dangerous outside threat the Nuggets needed last season.

Denver will already have Lawson, Gallinari, Faried and McGee as the other four starters that can play effectively in transition. Putting Neal into that mix as someone who can float to the wing while the others attack will give the opposing transition defense nightmares.

This gives the Nuggets a third player at the 2, with the others being Evan Fournier and rookie Erick Green. Then Brian Shaw has a chance to see these guys develop and find his best rotation as the season progresses.

It’s not ideal, but Neal fits on this team.


Looking Ahead

After a decent NBA draft, the Nuggets are not executing any of their game plans in free agency. It’s not like the Cleveland Cavaliers banking on LeBron James coming back to Cleveland in 2010, but the Nuggets needed Iguodala to stick around given his late decision.

Now with Golden State getting even better—and the Houston Rockets acquiring Dwight Howard, which he confirmed via Twitter—the Nuggets are falling behind in the West.

Scoring Ellis would help Denver catch up.

The Nuggets front office has made some drastic changes in the last month, but it must step its game up quickly.