Blog Entry

The Nuggets and their uncertain future

Posted on: April 28, 2011 3:08 pm
Posted by Royce Young

After the Nuggets' season wrapped up with a 100-97 Game 5 loss to Oklahoma City, George Karl summed up his team's whirlwind season pretty simply.

"I'm proud to be a part of what they've done. It's going to be hard to swallow but I think we have a bright future and a bright energy coming out of Denver and through a year that had many, many faces," he said. "We will, somewhere in the next week or so, wake up and realize we had one hell of a season.''

But that energy and future has a number of questions surrounding it. As much transition as the Nuggets' roster went through during the season, it may face a similar fate this offseason.

Wilson Chandler is a restricted free agent. So is Arron Afflalo. Nene has an early termination option that he's hinted towards exercising. Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith are both unrestricted free agents, with Smith already talking about going elsewhere.

Most of the Nuggets' core that built such a promising future and so much excitement, could be somewhere else next year. Chandler was asked postgame by The Denver Post about his future .

"I have no idea," Chandler said. "I'm just going to wait it out and see what happens. ... I just focus on now. I can't control the future."

Chandler struggled mightily in the postseasno going just 7-28 from the field in Denver's five games. He had played really well in Denver down the stretch, but his stinker in the playoffs may have cost him a bigger offer this summer.

Smith was asked again about his future in Denver and he didn't back off his previous statement. "Right now, I don't know (about returning to Denver). I still got to weigh some options and see what happens," he said . "Yeah, I feel better [about re-signing with the Nuggets]." Smith has had a bunch of up and down moments with the Nuggets, always remaining on a short leash from George Karl. A talented, versatile player that just never has been able to keep it together mentally, he'll find someone that wants him though.

Martin: "Yeah I don't want to leave. But it's out of my control right now So we'll see."

If Martin intends to stay in Denver, he's going to have to take a cut. He made $16.5 million this season and there's no way he sees that kind of cash again. He's aging and has battled a number of injuries lately. He's an important piece and someone definitely worth keeping, but only if the money works.

And then of course, the big one -- Nene. The Denver big man has definitely made it appear that he'll exercise that ETO and explore the free agent market. If he does, he'll command a hefty price tag. At just 27, he's settling in as one of the league's top big men and is an All-Star caliber center. Those kinds of guys tend to get paid. So general manager Masai Ujiri will have to make the call as to if Nene is something worth making the centerpiece of the organization. Nene is going to want star money. It's up to Denver to give it to him.

Most felt when Denver made the Carmelo Anthony deal it was all about cap flexibility and rebuilding. Then this roster played really well together. I don't know if that's what Ujiri expected but he's definitely re-evaluating what to do with it now. He has a chance to open up some cap space. Or he can keep most of the core intact. An interesting question.

Like George Karl said, sometime these guys will wake up and realize they had a great season. There is a great future coming out of Denver. It's just a little uncertain at this point.

Since: Jun 12, 2007
Posted on: April 28, 2011 6:11 pm

The Nuggets and their uncertain future

I am really, really impressed with what George Karl did wth this team realizing he got half of it at mid season.  I don't think anyone really saw this kind of performance right after the trade.  I remember thinking after the Carmelo Anthony, Chauncy Billups trade that Melo's selfish behavior had just killed the Nuggets.  Boy was I mistaken.  I am truly amazed by the season the Nuggets ended up putting togetther.  The off season is going to be intriguing for this team and it's players.  I agree with the comment made that the Nuggets should seek to add a superstar for their future.  They sure have plenty of bullets in their gun for trade purposes.  And I also agree that the Nuggets must do everything they can in order to keep Nene.  He is a really good center.  Whatever the team ends up being next year, I'm a big believer in Karl.  If he can get what he wants in terms of players, there's no telling where this team will be capable of going.  Seems the sky's the limit.

Since: Dec 11, 2006
Posted on: April 28, 2011 5:02 pm

The Nuggets and their uncertain future

The Nuggets will get through free agency just fine.  The only two players that could be problematic for Denver are Nene and Kenyon Martin.  I agree Denver will really have to step up to keep Nene.  He is an exceptional center in this league, and those are hard to come by.  And he's only going to get better.  It seems like only yesterday he was fighting cancer.  Since that time, he has made huge strides in his individual performance every year.  There is no reason next season will not be even better for him.  I see the Nuggets doing whatever is necessary to keep him on their roster.  They probably can't replace him if he leaves.  Kenyon Martin is another story.  While I'm sure the Nuggets want to keep him, I agree he's overpaid for what he brings to this team.  But, unlike Nene, he is easily replaced.  There are quite a few power forwards in this league, many of whom are better than Martin.  I highly doubt we'll see Martin in Denver next year.  But we might.  Who else is going to pay what he's earning now?  The remaining Nuggets are solid players, but should not be difficult to retain.  The big challenge for Denver will be which players do they really want to keep.  I doubt they want to keep Wilson Chandler, unless he's paid a bench salary.  He was really too inconsistent for how the Nuggets play.  Same goes for J. R. Smith.  The burning question for me for the Nuggets is whether they are going to try to add a true superstar this off season.  For them to advance in future playoffs, this a a glaring hole in their roster.  They know the playoffs are a different beast than the regular season.  They currently have a very good regular season team, but we all know there is no way they are sattisfied with merely that.  To me, this question is their most pressing because it will dictate what they will be able to afford on their roster of remaining players.  They need to resolve this issue first.  This will be a very interesting to see where Denver goes with all this.

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