Denver Nuggets Finally Land a Big Man in Al Harrington

Rich Kurtzman@@RichKurtzman Senior Analyst IJuly 14, 2010

NEW YORK - JANUARY 17:  Al Harrington #7 of the New York Knicks celebrates a three pointer against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 17, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. 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 Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Less than an hour ago by’s Chris Tomasson, “A source confirmed Tuesday night…the Nuggets will sign free-agent forward Al Harrington to a five-year, $33.4 million contract. There are no option years in the deal in which the Nuggets will use their full mid-level exception.”

The 6’9” Harrington can play either the three or four positions, has a good shooter’s touch, and possesses a decent post game, while also running the floor well.

And while he can ball, Harrington’s downsides are numerous.

He’s undersized to play against many of the power forwards in the West and he doesn’t play much defense anyway.

While he fills in for the injured Kenyon Martin to begin the season, the Nuggets will be easy to score on, but they may get more easy buckets as well.

Harrington enjoys running the break, and so does Ty Lawson and George Karl when his team listens. Harrington came off the bench for New York last year, still managing to score 17.7 points per game.

But Denver was also 20th in the league in rebounding in 2009-10, and Harrington only averaged 5.6 boards per contest for the Knicks. K-Mart’s rebounding numbers are usually around that point, but he was up to 9.4 RPG last season.

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So, when Harrington starts for the Nuggets this fall, they’ll be missing out on nearly four rebounds per game—a margin that may spell some early defeats for Denver.

But when/if Kenyon Martin can return in 2010-11, Harrington will make for a formidable backup big man in front of Chris “Birdman” Andersen.

Denver Post writer Dave Krieger (@DaveKrieger) chatted on Twitter about the recent acquisition. While we agree there will be lots of options as far as lineups are concerned, we also agree the defense will struggle until K-Mart’s back and as Krieger said, “They’ll have to outscore people early. Should be fun to watch.”

No doubt, Dave.

It’s not like George Karl likes to call too many plays anyway. As he said, Karl likes the players to “Just go out and run around and play.”

Between Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, and Harrington, the Nuggets can look forward to 60+ points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists per game—if the three can perform close to last year’s numbers. Those might not be “Big Three in Miami” numbers, but they are still pretty darn good.

Add in Nene’s 12 points and seven boards per, and Arron Afflalo’s improving numbers, and the Nuggets’ starters will be an arduous opponent for most any team in the NBA today.

If Denver wants to go small, they could put in Ty Lawson, J.R. Smith, Afflalo, Melo, and Harrington, or they could sub Afflalo for Nene for a quick and explosive lineup.

What shouldn’t be overlooked is Harrington’s questionable attitude, which will only add onto the explosive personalities of K-Mart and “JR Swish.”

George Karl has struggled to manage all the personalities in Denver, and when the Nuggets traded constant complainer Allen Iverson for consummate professional Chauncey Billups, some of those problems subsided.

What happens next is up to the Nuggets’ front office, which labored to make this essential first deal.

Denver has to choose whether to match the offer on Linas Kleiza that the Toronto Raptors offered him, but it looks as if they will not do that according to Tomasson.

The Nuggets have a $2.08 million biannual exemption they can still use, and they need to add another big man to fill in for Birdman; he will be missing some of the season as well. Plus, it would be nice to cut ties with an older Malik Allen.

Rumored to be possible additions are Brad Miller and Kurt Thomas, among others, and if the Nuggets can’t pull off another move, they will have to hope the signing of Harrington is enough to get Carmelo Anthony to ink the extension that’s on the table.

After a day in which the Utah Jazz improved by getting Al Jefferson, and the Dallas Mavericks acquired Tyson Chandler, the Denver Nuggets had to take action and, for better or worse, Harrington became their man.

Hopefully, the front office has a few more bigs on their minds as well.

Rich Kurtzman is a Colorado State alumnus and a freelance journalist. Along with being the CSU Rams Examiner, Kurtzman is the Fort Collins Beer Bars Examiner, the Denver Nuggets Featured Columnist on, a contributor to, and the Colorado/Utah Correspondent for

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