J.R. Smith, pack your bags. Your time is up in a powder blue uniform.
Smith has had a history of non-cooperation with the Nuggets, and seems to be dysfunctional when he is not touching the ball or his shots are not falling. His refusal to work as a member of a team and his me-first demeanor as plagued him during his time up North, and has a visible effect on coach George Karl.
When his shots are going in, he is hands down one of the most lethal and dangerous sixth men in the NBA. But because of his Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-style of play and his unwillingness to become team-oriented, Denver should allow him to walk away to another team.
In his absence, the Nuggets will need to search for a shooting guard with a similar skill set—and a far better attitude.
Here is a list of players that are available this offseason and have the ability to contribute to perhaps a successful season next year
1. Ben Gordon SG Chicago Bulls Status: Restricted Free Agent
2007-08 Numbers 18.6 PPG, 3 APG, 3.1 RPG, 41% 3pt FG
The disgruntled guard has been frustrated often during his time in a Chicago Bulls' uniform, and along with teammate SF Luol Deng, turned down a major contract extension in last year's offseason.
Ben is deadly from three point range, and has worked on his midrange game earlier this season, increasing his value higher to any team searching for two guard.
His field goal percentage dropped off slightly by several points, but that can be blamed on Scott Skiles and Jim Boylan's misuage of Gordon, who was rotated in and out of the starting lineup any given night.
Gordon would be great for Denver, but there only seems to be one road block—Allen Iverson. There is no chance that a team with Carmelo Anthony, A.I., and Ben Gordon can co-exist and learn to distribute the ball equally.
2. Josh Childress SG/SF Atlanta Hawks Status: Restricted Free Agent
2007-08 Numbers: 11.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG 1.5 APG
Standing at 6'8" (6'10" when he fully combs out his afro) and weighing 210 lbs, Josh Childress was an invaluable asset to the Atlanta Hawks this season, showing his versatility by splitting games at shooting guard and small forward, and by making a cameo in the role of the sixth man. While not a prolific scorer, Josh showed he had plenty of intangibles all season long and finally displayed them during the playoffs.
Childress averaged 7.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 1.6 APG in the first round against the Boston Celtics. While his points per game may be lower than in the regular season, his rebounding, assists, and blocks per game all increased, proving that he is able to affect a game in different ways.
Josh Childress can provide a spark plug to the Denver Nuggets by simply using his basketball I.Q. and great instincts. Josh played both SG/SF at Stanford, and has increased his production at the small forward position well in the pros. Childress has incredible hustle, and has improved his slashing and offensive game throughout his years in Atlanta.
Childress would adapt to the Nuggets style of play, and be an excellent option coming off the Nuggets bench.
3. James Jones SG/SF Portland Trail Blazers Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
2007-08 Numbers: 8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.3 BPG, 44% 3pt FG
After seeing little time with the Phoenix Suns, James Jones signed with the Portland Trail Blazers in anticipation of big minutes.
A highflyer and a forward most of his career, Jones actually turned into a marksman this season, shooting an astounding 52 percent from behind the arc earlier in the season. Jones was the NBA's top three-point shooter prior to his injury, but unfortunately never made back to 50 percent from downtown.
Due to his knee injury, James only played in 58 games this season. However, he did shoot 44.4 percent—which is still recognized one of the best in the league. He also shot 87.8 percent from the charity stripe during the season and shoots 86.5 percent for his career.
James Jones is exactly what the Denver Nuggets need right now. Denver lacks an athletic combo player like Jones—a mixture of speed and strength, while possessing the great touch inside and outside of the paint. Not only that, Jones will be able to stretch the defense with his uncanny shooting from long distance.
I believe that James Jones would be the perfect fit for the Denver Nuggets, because they currently do not have any true athletic forwards outside of Carmelo Anthony.
Now, there can be an argument made for Linas Kleiza and Kenyon Martin.
In agreement with the accusations, Kleiza is a set shooter and does not prefer driving to the rim but will when forced to do so. When Linas begins to drive to the basket, he seems uncomfortable, as if he were stepping into forbidden territory.
In agreement with the accusations, Kenyon Martin still has good speed for a power forward, but is no longer the definition of an athletic forward. K-Mart can blame multiple knee surgeries for his first step and ''spring like'' vertical disapperance. He can no longer out-jump his opponents and tries to rely on awkward rebounds or putbacks to score the majority of his points.
Kenyon will also attempt to make things happen, but no longer posses the skill set to create his own shot.
Without an argument, the Nuggets need more defense than offense. But if a piece like J.R. Smith leaves, they will try their best to replace him.
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