J.R. Smith's continued development and explosive play have made him an attractive candidate to re-sign with the Denver Nuggets, even as his foibles make the decision a difficult one. Very rarely do bench players garner this much offseason attention before free agency even begins.
The Nuggets were a fun group to watch before and after Carmelo Anthony departed to New York, along with Chauncey Billups.
In both cases, Denver was a free-and-loose team that liked to run-and-gun with attitude and an edge. Few players better embody that style than J.R. Smith.
The jury is still out as to whether Denver's super-platoon approach will net them more success than the "Carmelo Anthony Show." Until we see the new Nuggets through a full regular season, it will be hard to judge this year's middling playoff results with any real perspective.
One thing is clear, this group is going to put up some points and win a lot of games. Their "attack from all angles" strategy works because they've got energy players, difference makers and superlative depth at every position. Plus, practically everyone can shoot, and absolutely everybody can get out and run.
Still, one has to wonder whether they'll be able to concentrate their diverse firepower enough over the course of a seven game series.
In addition to all the depth, the Denver Nuggets will need to develop some "lead" players, even if they don't necessarily have top-tier superstars.
Nene Hilario is the Nuggets' first hope; he is clearly the franchise cornerstone at this point.
On the other hand, Danillo Gallinari and Ty Lawson have shown the abilities to eventually be All-Star caliber players as well.
Yet, as he is in so many regards, J.R. Smith is the wild card.
He may be a star, or he may end up being nothing more than a super-sub. His contributions may be worth the raise that awaits him or the money might be better spent elsewhere.
The Nuggets have some difficult decisions when it comes to J.R. Smith this offseason. "To sign or not to sign," that is the question. Here are 10 key factors they should consider...