The Denver Nuggets have been one of the biggest surprises this season. After barely making the playoffs in the 2007-2008, the Denver Nuggets were not expected to have the success they have had this year.
The early blockbuster trade that sent future Hall of Famer Allen Iverson to the Detroit Pistons for Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess, and Cheikh Samb was the franchise changer.
Billups brought leadership and a winning attitude to the team, as well as a secondary coach. After having an amazing playoff run end against the L.A. Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, the Nuggets' front office has some decisions to make.
Re-sign/Don't Sign Free Agents.
Chris Anderson has been the feel-good story of the NBA this year. Few players have come back from something he has been through. Anderson's suspension for two years due to drugs is just as bad as Alonzo Mourning's kidney problem back in his New Jersey days. Taking in heroin and other substances kills you slower than a kidney, but it's a slow, painful death.
He has brought energy off the bench this year and was second in the league in BPG, behind Dwight Howard playing on 20 MPG. He sets the tone on the defensive end at the Pepsi Center.
He has stated himself that he won't leave Denver. He wants to play there as that's where he went through rehab and it is very special to him
Carter has proved to be key for this Nuggets team coming off the bench. Let's not forget that last season, Carter started at the point guard spot for the Nuggets. He is a solid contributor, as last season he averaged 5.5 APG on 28 MPG, while this year, coming off the bench, he played 22 MPG and averaged 4.7 APG.
He brings that veteran guard presence, but he is not a big scorer.
Try hunting for a backup PG, but if you cannot, re-sign him.
Denver signed him to the remainder of the season as a third string PG. He has not brought anything to this Nugget squad and having him gone relieves $2.4 million from the cap.
Let him go.
Jones has proved to be a stopper against smaller guards like Chris Paul. He cannot guard players like Kobe Bryant, so he resorts to tripping and such. He sometimes tries to get his offense going even though his shot is horrible. If he becomes smarter, he will get on my good books. He is in between as of now.
Teams would probably be looking at him as he is a gritty defender. I have heard the Celtics might be interested in him.
Not much to say here. He is not a good enough player to be on a championship-caliber team. He collects silly fouls and tries to do things he cannot. Letting him walk would give the Nuggets $1.9 million off the cap.
Let him go.
Letting Kleiza walk would be one of the worst decisions ever. Kleiza is a proven scorer. He had a career-high 41 points coming off the bench against the Utah Jazz—not starting, but off the bench. He is good enough that the Nuggets were in talks of shipping him to the Kings for Ron Artest.
He is a good backup to Carmelo Anthony an can be put at the two spot if the Nuggets go small.
Let's not forget he is only 24 and if he works on it, can be a premier SF in this league. He has talked about signing a one-year extension with the Nuggets because the economy is weak, and could expect better in 2010.
Free Agents Nuggets Should Go after
It is pretty hard to go after free agents when you're over the cap, $11 million over the cap to be exact. Let's forget about that for now.
Yes, bring Wallace to the mile high city and pair him with his former teammate Chauncey Billups. He would be able to stretch the floor while backing up Nene, or possibly starting for him. It is highly unlikely Wallace would take the back seat though.
Okur, like Wallace, would be able to stretch the floor and can fill up the backup center spot. He is a seven-footer and would be able to make plays. He could possibly start, but I don't think the Nuggets want Nene's development to be slowed down.
Who? Eddie Jones.
Yeah, he is not retired officially. He was traded to the Indiana Pacers, and his contract was bought out. He could seek retirement, or he could play for one more team and try to win that championship.
He brings a good veteran presence and could back up Jones at PG or J.R. Smith at the SG spot. He would, however, play limited minutes due to his age (37).
This is probably the least likely to happen.
Lamar would not take anything less then $7 million. If he does take a pay cut, bringing in Lamar would be the best thing to ever happen to the Nuggets. It would officially make the Nuggets good enough to compete with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nuggets would have to bring Kenyon Martin to the bench if this were to happen. Lamar would not want to be that sixth man again.
He would bring size, something the Nuggets are laking, and could play the PF or the C if the Nuggets go small. A small lineup the Nuggets would have Odom, Nene, Carmelo, Smith, and Billups.
If either Wallace or Okur does sign with the Nuggets, we could see a second string of Wallace/Okur, Kenyon Martin, Linas Kleiza, Dahntay Jones/Sonny Weems, Anthony Carter.
Yup, I'll get to him right now.
Weems is not a free agent, but I feel like I have to address him.
You probably remember Weems for throwing the alley-oop passes to J.R. Smith in this year's dunk contest. Yup, they were horrible.
Weems was traded to the Denver Nuggets from the Chicago Bulls right after being selected by the Bulls in the 2008 NBA Draft. Weems is a high scorer and is very fast and has a lot of agility.
This guy can be the next Stephen Jackson, heck, maybe even a Manu Ginobli. If he continues to grow, I expect him to be a key factor in the Nuggets rotation for years to come.
With all of these little moves that could happen, we are looking at a team that can challenge the Lakers and the rejuvenated Boston Celtics.
Expect another great season from the Nuggets next year.