Nuggets Free Agency Game Plan
Thunder is booming and the rain is falling in downtown Denver tonight.
Nuggets President Josh Kroenke is sipping his freshly brewed coffee in his $6 million dollar penthouse. He drinks it black, no milk or sugar, they numb down the boldness of flavor. He takes a deep breath, looks out over the beautiful skyline, takes out his phone and calls Nuggets General Manager Tim Connelly. “It’s game time.”
New Nuggets Head Coach Brian Shaw is in his office at the Pepsi Center. Chewing the same piece of Stride gum for hours. Concentrating too hard to bother spitting it out. He’s too busy working on what any newly hired head coach would work on. Game film. It’ll be five straight hours once the little-hand strikes the 6.
Something is off, he’s not analyzing Nuggets film. He’s analyzing other players.
Which schemes work around which players? Will J.J. Redick be able to consistently knock down a shot from the corner after a fast-break? What about when his team is down by 5 and desperately needs a big shot to provide a chance at a W?
Too many questions, not enough answers. And soon, not enough time.
His phone is vibrating on his desk. Coach Shaw takes a deep breath, this is it. His first free agency as a head coach. This could provide him with talented players to provide a deep playoff run for the ferocious Nuggets. Or it could leave him with even less than he has now. “Hello? Yes, I’ll be up in five. I saw the film, scrutinized it. He’s the one we need. I agree. Bye.”
The Nuggets boardroom is majestic. Leather bound recliners surrounding an oak oval table, espresso machines on the back wall, numerous television monitors with game footage running in the background. More and more men and women file into the room from lawyers to agents, assistant coaches to trainers take their seats and look around with a glimmer in their eyes, this is Christmas morning for them and Santa is just about to land on their roof.
Josh Kroenke, Tim Connelly, and Brian Shaw command attention with their glaring confidence as they walk into the room. The doors close, the clock turns to 10:00 PM MTN time. “Let’s go get ’em ladies and gentlemen!”
Meanwhile, Chris Paul is relaxing by his pool. Sipping an ice-cold beer and smoking a cigar. His agent right next to him on his laptop with four phones beside him. “How’s it looking so far?” Chris asks between puffs. “Los Angeles, will be calling first.” his agent says. “Good, good. Tell them I want my money.”
NBA Free Agency started at 12:00 AM Monday morning.
Agents are fielding calls as you breathe. Coaches are rapidly discussing their thoughts with other coaches. Accountants and lawyers are discussing the available funds. High caliber free agents such as Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Josh Smith, Andre Igoudala, and David West can breathe deeply for the right reasons. They’ll get signed to monster deals. Howard is even looking at a possible four-year, $87.4 million dollar contract. One he is surely to sign.
Other players such as Earl Watson, DeJuan Blair, Jermaine O’Neal, and Kenyon Martin are breathing deeply. Except this time they’re being told to, by their girlfriends. Their future in the NBA may not continue past this point. Some teams might be desperate enough to sign them to a minimum contract.
The Denver Nuggets are in a challenging spot. Their biggest acquisition from last season Andre Igudala is looking to leave the mile high city in exchange for more dollars than Scrooge McDuck would have to swim in. Rumor is the Detroit Pistons are already working on getting their contracts ready for one of the league’s greatest defenders to sign.
Corey Brewer is an unrestricted free agent although he has said he’d like to return to Denver, if the price is right. A key role player, averaging 23.8 minutes each game and scoring 11.5 points per game. The Nuggets will hold his 29% three-point shooting percentage against him and won’t offer a cent more than what they think he is worth.
The Western conference is stacked. The Clippers have Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and new coach Doc Rivers. The Thunder has the “Free Taco” blocking Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and a core of young players. The Lakers have Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and are looking to make a run for the championship or bust, since they’re both a few years away from coaching if they follow Jason Kidd’s retirement plan. So the question remains for every Nuggets fan, “who will we sign? ”
It’s vital to state that the Nuggets desperately need sharp shooters on the court.
Here are my picks for who the Nuggets will target.
1) Shooting Guard J.J. Redick
One of the greatest players out of Duke University. His stroke followed him to the NBA as he is deadly anywhere on the court. Relatively young, 28 years old and averaged 14.1PPG. Expect a team to snatch him up immediately.
2)Small Forward Kyle Korver.
He resembles Ashton Kutcher.But he is one of the greatest three-point shooters in the league. He shot 3s with 46% last season, the second highest in the league.
3) Shooting Guard/ Small Forward Tony Allen.
He made noise on the Memphis Grizzlies and earned a spot on the First Team Defense. An extremely talented defender, lacking offensive skill, (8.9PPG and 4.6RPG as a starter!) His old age of 31 won’t help his agent will try to pry as much money as they can get either.
4) Power Forward J.J. Hickson
Only 24 and averaged a double-double last season with 12.7PPG and 10.4RPG. He also shot 56% from behind the arc. He could see a very large contract.
5) Point Guard Nate Robinson
The former legendary NBA Dunk Champion averaged 13.1PPG coming off the bench. A terrific burst of scoring and energy from any bench. Although he may have had significantly smaller numbers if former MVP Derrick Rose got over himself and returned to action after being cleared by doctors.
6) Point Guard/ Shooting Guard Gary Neal
Ah, the almost NBA Finals hero. 24 points in game 3. 48% behind the perimeter for the series. That certainly caught the eyes of every general manager in the league. However, his stats of 9.5 PPG 2.1 RPG and 1.9 APG tell another story. He’s a solid fit off the bench as a third string guard, who has the chance to get hot.
7) Forward Carl Landry
Nuggets die-hard fans will remember Landry as one of the Warriors substitutes who racked up points and rebounds. He’s 29 years old, averaged 10.8PPG and 6RPG. He’ll look for a big deal before his age becomes a major factor in the next 3-4 years.
8) Power Forward Tyler Hansbrough
One of the most prolific players out of Chapel Hill. A young player averaging about 17 minutes per game. His rebounds per game is a little low for a forward (4.6RPG) he averaged 7 points last season. What helps out here, is he has played under Head Coach Brian Shaw. He is familiar with his style.
9) Point Guard D.J. Augustin
Another former player of Brian Shaw. Only this time, we see a player who saw his stats deflate last season. Averaging 11PPG in 2011-2012 with Charlotte, D.J. signed a contract with Indiana hoping to boost his stats and become a prime target for this free agent period. His minutes fell from 30 to 16. Assists fell from 6.4 to 2.2! Most notably, his scoring fell from 11 to 4.7. Once seen as a promising player, he is now seen with caution.
10) Point Guard Chauncey Billups
The hometown hero. George Karl’s former eyes of the court. A former champion, all-star, fan favorite, and Nugget. This may be seen as a way of earning back respect of some sour Nuggets fans for the release of George Karl. It would work. It would also make for a nice ending to his career, in his hometown. Will we see Assistant Coach Billups in a few years on the Nuggets bench?
The chaotic period of the Nuggets offseason is over. The frantic searching for a leader ended. Coach Shaw is walking outside for some crisp, refreshing mile high air.
The heavy rumble of thunder is slowly growing faint. The once blistering rain has transformed into a light drizzle. The moon has emerged from the clouds, casting a faint glow over the Rocky Mountains. The city lights of downtown Denver radiating in the beauty of the night.
President Kroenke joins him outside in front of the Pepsi Center. “What a sight huh?” “Let’s hope our desired players think so.”
In the meantime Chris Paul is celebrating in Los Angeles, buying bottles of Pérignon. His new 5-year, $107 million dollar contract will certainly quench his thirst for money. Will it quench his thirst for a championship ring? Only time will tell.