Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Blueprint

(Boulder-CO) Just like with any blueprint, my off-season ideas are only possible because of the strong foundation that the Denver Nuggets currently have. My prescription is to upgrade positions that are deficient to their counterparts, keep the Nuggets near the same luxury cap overage as last season, and to maintain the starting foundation while also strengthening the bench in the best, hypothetical, scenario possible. The short term goal is for the Nuggets to advance past the first round. The long term goal is for the Nuggets to win the Larry O’Brien trophy. Now let’s shuffle the cards!

My first, and most drastic, move is to trade Marcus Camby for a floor general that is both a calm commander with a sense of time and possession and a player that can create for himself off the dribble while looking to put his teammates in better scoring position. A tall order indeed, and to make things even more complicated he needs to make less than Marcus Camby’s next year salary of $8,000,000. The reasons why I think Marcus Camby is the player to be traded is because of his all-time high market value after winning the Defensive Player of the Year award and the rapid development of Nene. We also have to keep in mind, and our fingers crossed, that Kenyon Martin is returning to action next season and that he will be able to provide the Nuggets with a solid option at power forward.

The man that I like the most for the job of starting point guard is Antonio Daniels. While with the San Antonio Spurs in the 1998-99 season, Daniels did win a ring while coming off the bench for Avery Johnson, so he knows what it is like to play on the NBA’s biggest stage and emerge victorious. He is set to make $5,800,000 next season and what is most exciting about Daniels is how he picked up his game when Gilbert Arenas went down right before the playoffs this past season. During the regular season last year he averaged 22 minutes of action a night while coming off the bench and giving the Wizards 7.1 points while shooting 44% from the field and dishing 3.6 assists per contest. These numbers may not seem like much to in comparison to what the Nuggets are trading, but there is much more to this story than first meets the eye.

When Washington’s starting point guard, and first scoring option, Gilbert Arenas went down with an injury on April 4th it opened up the playing doors for Antonio Daniels and he did not wait long before proving that more minutes were all that was needed for him to boost his scoring output by more than four points and to nearly double his assist totals. In the month of March, Daniels was averaging 18 minutes of play which translated into 7.2 points and four assists. In the month of April, he saw his minutes spike to 35 per game and his averages jumped to 11.2 points and 8.6 assists! Furthermore, during the playoffs, Antonio showed his post season polish by raising his game even higher to averages of 13.3 points and 11.8 assists in the unfortunate sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Obviously, the ten-year veteran still has some gas left in the tank and with his experience he could be the exact kind of player that the Nuggets are looking for.

Now I know that from the outside looking in it may appear that the Nuggets are getting the short end of the deal by giving up Marcus Camby for the Wizards back-up point guard. But when the luxury cap is considered, plus the return of the nearly un-tradable Kenyon Martin, and the emergence of Nene as a legitimate low post scorer and defender something has to give. I for one am from the school of thought that you sell high and buy low and by trading Marcus Camby for Antonio Daniels, and potentially a first round pick in a future draft, the Nuggets would be doing just that.

So with that being said, the starting five now has an upgraded backcourt with Allen Iverson and Antonio Daniels, and the front court has Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, and Nene. Now let’s take a look at this bench situation and see if there can be some moves made to trade some guys who have not worked out in return for some part-time contributors.

Right off the bat let me say that the Nuggets would be foolish to let J.R. Smith or Linas Kleiza escape from their grip at this point in either man’s young career. Both are relatively inexpensive for what they bring to the team and more importantly far outweigh their salaries in potential contribution. I would also like to see Steve Blake return as the back-up point guard, but his contract has run its course and he is looking for a mid-level deal of around three to five million dollars per year for the next three or four years. He made $1.3 for his services last year and the aforementioned price jump for his services might be too much for the Nuggets to shell out. But that is ok because the Nuggets have a team option for $1.1 million on Anthony Carter’s services for next season. With that in mind, Anthony Carter has proven to be a basketball journeyman and provides the Nuggets with at least somebody off the end of the bench at point guard, if in the event that Blake opts out for more money. However, make no mistake about the Nuggets only needing one back-up point guard with the likes of AI and Antonio Daniels playing over 40 minutes per game.

So, if the Nuggets can find a way to keep Smith, Kleiza, and either Blake or Carter that is a solid one through three bench rotation right there. Add in the promise of the 6’5” Von Wafer from the NBDL Colorado 14ers, (where he averaged 21 points while shooting 45% from downtown), and the Nuggets already have nine players on their roster.

The obstacle now becomes what to do with the likes of DerMarr Johnson, Reggie Evans, Jamal Sampson, Yakhouba Diawara, and Eduardo Najera with the possibility of a couple of the aforementioned still remaining in Denver with the Nuggets looking for a free agent big man. We all know that Reggie Evans (four million) and Eduardo Najera (4.9 million) are the most expensive of the role players currently on the Denver bench, so trading at least one of these guys to any team with a late first round or early second pick is what I feel the Nuggets need to do (and I would prefer Reggie to be the one traded). This way they can sign that future draft pick to the standard rookie three year contract and alleviate some cap space. As for DerMarr and Jamal Sampson…Good luck finding a new NBA home. Yakhouba is a cheap swing man at $687,456 and should be kept at the end of the bench for defensive assignments. Now let's find the Nuggets a free agent big man.
And that big man is a familiar one indeed. A man that would need no introduction to the Pepsi Center patrons. A man that would be familiar in a Nuggets uniform and a man that probably haunts George Karl’s dreams. This man is Dikembe Mutombo. Mt. Mutombo is a free agent this off-season and I would be very surprised if the Rockets choose to resign him. He has already hinted that he has one more good year in him and the Nuggets would only need him to lock down the middle when Nene takes a blow. He can certainly still rebound and block some shots and if there ever were a NBA city that he would want to finish his career in it would only seem natural that Denver would be it! This would mean that the Nuggets could have their cake and eat it too in a sense because they could waive a guys like Jamal Sampson, (who is a free agent this year too), and DerMarr Johnson, (which they should have done last off-season), therefore winding up allotting that money to Dikembe. In this two for one deal, the Nuggets shuck two players that rarely ever saw any light for one that would be an instant fan favorite and contribute right away.

And if you’re keeping track… That means we can still keep either Eduardo Najera on the bench to further solidify the front line while also having one more open active roster spot for Von Wafer. Seems so simple now doesn’t it?

Now the only thing left to do is to add up the salaries and see if all this wheeling and dealing is going to be a reality underneath the 2007-08 NBA luxury tax limit of $65.42 million dollars.


Last year’s Nuggets combined payroll was $66,843,840, which was $5 million and change over last season’s luxury cap of $61.7 million. I feel that if all of these changes can still hover around last season’s overage then the Nuggets can afford to make the necessary changes to improve this franchise.
.
Allen Iverson -------------------------- $21.1 million
Carmelo Anthony --------------------- $13.7 million
Kenyon Martin ------------------------ $13.0 million
Nene ------------------------------------ $11.05 million
Antonio Daniels ----------------------- $ 5.8 million
Eduardo Najera ----------------------- $4.9 million
J.R. Smith ----------------------------- $1.6 million
Linas Kleiza - ------------------------- $1 million
Von Wafer ---------------------------- $770,610 (team option)
Anthony Carte ------------------------ $1.1 million (team option)
Yakhouba Diawara ------------------- $687, 456
Dikembe Mutombo ------------------- $1.5 million (estimated)

Total------------------------------------- $76,207,610 in 2007-08 salary

This total is just barely over what the Nuggets exceeded the luxury cap by last season and in my assessment gives Denver a much stronger roster with more contributors than last year’s team.

What does everyone think?

15 comments:

nuggsfan15 said...

I like it. Id LOVE to see Mt. Mutombo back in Denver. (Should have never left, but we all know the story behind that one...)

But what do you think abot Denver tryin to pull off this Kenyon for Artest straight up trade?

Trey said...

Camby for Daniels is bad for so many different reasons. You don't trade big for small. You don't give up your best rebounder. And the Nuggs already porous defense would totally fall apart if they didn't have Camby to cover their mistakes. Furthermore, with AI and Carmelo, you don't need another guy who dominates the ball like Daniels often does.

Steve Blake is a perfect PG for their team. He's got a steady outside shot. He doesn't need the ball and he gets guys the ball in a position where they can make plays.

Also, do you really want to count on Kenyon Martin next year? His game (which was already in steady decline) is predicated on his outstanding athletic ability, something that will be taken from him after knee surgery.

Nugg Doctor said...

Trey,

You make some valuable points, but I do not agree that you do not trade big for small. Not to mention I include a 7'2" Mt. Mutombo in my post and the pending return of 6'9" Martin who was basically not part of the opertational team last season. With these two things in mind, (not to mention this is completely hypothetical) size would not be a problem.

And as far as Steve Blake being the perfect point guard for this team... Steve Blake was a back-up guy for a Bucks team that was struggling to beat anyone last year before he came to the Nuggets in a deal that was mostly financial.

He hasn't been the perfect point guard for any team since leaving the University of Maryland.

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor

Haig said...

I'm OK with trading Camby but by getting Daniels, we're not really selling high. Even with getting Washington's first pick, I think we can find a better PG out there. What about Luke Ridnour or Earl Watson from Seattle? Could we pry Chauncey Billups from the market somehow? I think we need someone who can shoot the 3 reasonably well.

I'm ambivalent about Mutombo. He's an injury waiting happen and I'd hate to rely upon him if Nene gets hurt. Did you consider Etan Thomas, Brad Miller or even Joel Pryzbilla?

I also agree that Blake is replaceable given his higher salary expectation. I'd rather give his salary to a good shooting PG. How about a Mike Bibby (3rd among PG in NBA 3 pt avg) or Rafer Alston (2nd)? Jason Williams (7th)? Even Sam Cassell could give us some punch. And why did we trade Jameer Nelson away Kiki?

Its tough to get excited about your proposal. We'd need a better (and probably younger) PG in return for Camby. I'd love to get Kirk Hinrich from Chicago.

That being said, part of our problem is that AI is not a very good SG option as he has problems matching up against most SG defensively. (btw, I'd trade AI for Kobe in a heartbeat.) AI is an obvious upgrade from Boykins but he's always going to be a defensive liability against anyone but a PG. That's why he'll continue to get PT there and maybe why its useless to wish for top tier PG talent until AI is gone.

So instead, maybe we should try to move Camby for a true shooting guard. Why not go for Ray Allen? or a Mo Pete. 3 pt shooting problem solved. Let AI play PG, dish to Allen and Melo on the perimeter and feed Nene and KMart inside.

Just a thought.
thanks for the analysis, please keep it up.

Nugg Doctor said...

haig,

Once again the readers of this blog have some really good ideas. I like your thoughts about AI's liabilities on defense and completely agree there, but some of the point guards you mentioned are so far out of the Nuggets price range that to mention them probably gives Kroenke the chills.

Billups is going to sign a huge contract if he doesn't remain with the Pistons through his player option, Bibby is set to make $13.5 million this year and $14.5 million next year, and Hinrich is due $11 million next year and his contract goes through 2012.

I really do like the idea of landing Rafer "Skip to my Lou" Alston, but the problem there is Houston already has Yao Ming and they would want nothing to do with Camby. Otherwise, yes he would really fit in great with our system.

I can also understand your concerns about Mutombo being an injury liability with his age and all, but then again, so was Marcus. I looked at Mutombo's games played in the last four years and he has actually avoided the injury bug quite well. His lowest games played out in the last four years was 64 two seasons ago, he played in 75 games last year,and a pretty impressive 80 games in 2004-05.

The other thing you mentioned, that actually made me chuckle, is the thought of bringing Ray Allen to the Nuggets. Without doing any research, I am pretty sure the relationship between George Karl and Jesus Shuttlesworth is a salty one. The relationship actually ended with the Sonics letting George pack his bags. Too bad, but Ray Ray is also set to make $16 million next year and his contract maxes out at $18.7 million in 2010.

The final thought about your comment that I would be in 100% agreement with is the idea of trading Kobe Bryant for AI. Iverson is no slouch by any means, but the fact remains that Kobe Bryant has the most complete offensive game in the modern age and the rings to prove it.

Please do not take this comment or any other as my way of trying to discredit yours. I am just merely doing my thinking out loud in response to your thoughts in hopes of finding some common thread.

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor

Nugg Doctor said...

nuggsfan15,

Sorry to forget about you there, but I absolutely hate the idea of getting Artest even if they paid us to take him. The guy is a cancer and the Nuggets should avoid anything to do with RonRon at all costs.

In all reality, I wouldn't shed a tear if they locked him up!

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor

ThaAnswer said...

A couple quick notes since I'm rushed on time. Whoever suggested Luke Ridnour must have lost their mind. Talk about a PG who can't play defense? Throw him on the Nuggets and we'd be struggling for the 8th spot.

No one would ever trade Kobe for AI.

Seems there is excess AI hating in what I quickly read (in the responses). AI may not be able to match up with other SGs defensively, but he's one of the best damn scorers to ever play the game. With a PG like Daniels who can really play some D, switching that match up would usually work out. Although I do believe there may be someone better out there than Daniels, just don't have the time to look.

Also from what I've read, Mt Mutumbo is wanting to play another year, but I don't know if Houston is going to let him get away. He played solid for them all last year, especially with Yao out. Not resigning him wouldn't make much sense, and I'm thinking his 'last year loyalty' would lie with them.

Nugg Doctor said...

thaanswer,

If you're not on AI's payroll someone in his camp should cut you a check!

Seriously though, your comments are some of my favorite on a consistent basis. I'll be interested in your thoughts if in fact you do go out there and search for a PG you like better than Antonio Daniels.

What about if the Nuggets put old "55" in honor of Mutombo's number when he retires? If they did that do you think that he might be lured by tugging on those nostalgic heart strings?

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor

Jason said...

I read your blueprint, and though I agree with some of it, I think that the moves you suggest would really lack the "umph" that this team needs in veteran leadership and shooting.

You have to remember what Denver's greatest needs are:

1. Perimeter shooting
2. Perimeter defense
3. Veteran leadership - guys that know how to make shots in the clutch (call it the Derek Fisher or Robert Horry effect)

So, your biggest move as highlighted would be to bring in Antonio Daniels from the Wizards for Marcus Camby. So here is how I feel about the whole Camby debate. IF, and that is a big IF, you can get an above average point guard or shooter for Marcus Camby, and possibly a draft pick, then I think you make the move. Is Daniels that guy? That is debatable, as I will discuss later. But I also think there is a strong chance Camby remains with Denver. Yes, if KMart is healthy, the front court will be too deep next year. But I also think that you have a good chance of trading either or both of Reggie Evans or Eddie Najera for the types of players this team needs. I do believe of our "star" players, Camby should be the one to be traded if salary cutting is the route that Stan Kroenke goes. Now, if salary is not an issue, and Stan doesn't mind the luxury tax, then I say keep the core intact, which includes Marcus Camby. But I don't see that happening, especially since teams like the Lakers are already calling to inquire of Camby's availability.

So...onto the subject of trading Camby for Antonio Daniels. First off, this deal would have to include a future 1st rounder to make any sense for Denver. And while I do like Antonio Daniels as a player (very underated in my opinion), I think that we can get much more value than Daniels for Camby. Now, if we can get Daniels and possibly DeShawn Stevenson (a decent perimeter defender/shooter) plus a 1st rounder, now I think you might be talking. Stevenson shot just over 40% from 3 land last year, and is an above average perimeter defender. If you can get him with Daniels, I think that would be a great trade for Denver.

Another possibility for a trade: Camby for Diop and Stackhouse (sign & trade) of Dallas. We get another big in return and a very good shooting vet. Dallas probably doesn't give up Diop, but they are getting Camby in return??

Also, a trade I would love to see is Camby for Raja Bell. Bell is EXACTLY the type of player we need - hard nosed defender, and a very good shooter. His salary is much less than Camby's though, so we would probably have to also take Marcus Banks off Phoenix's hands, as he hasn't paned out there. But all in all, I think that would be a great trade! Phoenix gets bigger up front, and we get our perimeter defender/shooter. But again, not sure that Phoenix gives up Bell, as he is too valuable to them.

Again, some of these trades may not be agreed upon by other teams, but Camby is a decent trade asset, so you never know.

How about Camby for Gordan Giricek and Derek Fisher?? We get a couple of impressive shooters, plus a veteran leader/defender/pg in Fisher.

Basically, what I am getting at, is that I do not think getting just a player like Daniels is enough. Though I think he might be a decent fit on this team, we also desperately need shooters and valuable bench guys. In your proposal, nothing much changed with our bench, and although I love JR and Linas, we still won't know if they will continue to grow into being reliable guys during the playoffs till next year. In the meantime, I think you need to bring in SOMEONE that can hit big shots off your bench, our Derek Fisher or Robert Horry replica, as you might say.

There is also some smaller moves that we can make to improve our team but that might not require us to trade Camby. If you move either Evans or Najera (much rather see Evans go) for players such as James Jones of Phoenix, or a sign and trade for Mo Pete of Toronto, or Chris Duhon of Chicago (I think Duhon would fit great on this team), those types of moves could greatly improve this team and go a long way.

We need glue guys, guys that can compliment AI, Melo and Nene. But we also need guys that can step up and hit big shots. The Front Office has their work cut out for them.

I agree in principal with your blueprint Nugg Doctor, but I think we just need some more pieces than what you proposed for 1. Camby, and 2. our bench.

Good looking out though, I always enjoy your thoughts on our team!!

ThaAnswer said...

One other thing, remember how last year we kept saying we need someone to knock down outside shots. Nugg Doc, the roster you laid out doesn't quite address that need. We need the floor spread out for AI and Melo. I don't recall Daniels being money drop the outside. thoughts?

ThaAnswer said...

Jason, quick note. Besides AI, Deshawn Stevenson is my favorite player in the L. Problem is his 3 point % was deceiving last year. He's not that great an outside shooter, but he can lock a m/fer down on defense. I don't know where you throw him in the rotation, unless you move AI to point. Sure would love to have him on Denver though. He's a free agent and only made 1 mil last year. Somebody will have to pay up this time around.

Jason said...

theanswer,

I agree with you in that Nugg Doctor's assessment seems to still be lacking the need for a big time shooter. Not to knock him though, as the front office has there work cut out for them! It is not easy to fit the perfect fit for what Denver needs.

And I think that Antonio Daniels DOES fit a number of needs for Denver: Floor leader, defender, and a guy that will get out of the way and let AI and Melo do their thing! Plus, he is cheaper than Camby, so that might allow Denver to trim payroll.

However...again, I think trading Camby for just Daniels is a mistake, as I think you will find better value for him elsewhere. Or, as I mentioned, you need to get a guy like Stevenson as part of that trade, something along those lines.

As far as your assessment of Stevenson, how is shooting 40% deceiving???

I mean, he will never be mistaken for a pure shooter, but shooting 40% can be no mistake. He maybe would not alleviate all our issues, but his defense is strong, and I think that he could develop into a shut down defender and spot up shooter like Bruce Bowen is.

Plus, I think he could be a poor man's Raja Bell, whom I think would be the best fit on this Denver team.

Anyhow, as mentioned, the front office has their work cut out for them! Hopefully they will make the right moves!

johnnyquest said...

I don't know much about him but it seems like chucky atkins puts up the same amount of assists per game that blake puts up and has a better three point percentage. HOw would atkins do on this team. I don't follow the grizzlies at all so i don't know anything about him other than statistics

m said...

How about this trade: Marcus Camby and Reggie Evans to Utah for Kirilinko and either Ronnie Brewer or Paul Milsap and perhaps a pick. AK could be a great role player in our system.

Nugg Doctor said...

Not a bad idea, m, but the only problem that I see with that is the unavoidable log jam at the four spot with AK and Milsap if the deal were to go down.

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor