Myth #1: The Nuggets had to move Camby because they have bigger plans in the works.
The Camby trade was just a salary dump, plain and simple. Don't be duped by the $10 million trade exemption that team Vice Presidents Mark Warkentien and Rex Chapman are boasting about. Unless a can't miss, home run deal falls into their lap, the Nuggets will enter 2008-09 as presently constructed and will remain "lean" salary cap-wise for the next two seasons. If you add up the non-re-signing of Eduardo Najera, the trading away of a first round pick that would've required guaranteed money, the Camby "trade" and the cuts coming with the Avalanche, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that owner Stanley Kroenke is cutting back across the board. Maybe Stan is getting crushed in the stock market like the rest of us.
Myth #2: Kenyon Martin is only on the books for two more seasons. So by getting rid of Camby now and Martin in two years, the Nuggets will sign a big name free agent during the summer of 2010.
For all you optimists who have written in saying that K-Mart is gone after two seasons, think again. K-Mart is on the books for three more seasons. The third season is a player's option, not a team option. And I think it's safe to assume that K-Mart will exercise his option commanding the Nuggets to pay him $16.5 million for the 2010-11 season.
Myth #3: Mark Warkentien and Rex Chapman are smart, experienced guys and they have a plan in place.
Warkentien has never aided in the building of an NBA championship team and has a long, "distinguished" track record of seeking talent over everything else...including ethical behavior. So it's no surprise that Warkentien is throwing out the quality character performers like Camby and Najera while building the team around talented but troubled guys like Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. I'm not suggesting for a second that they build the team around Camby, just that you have to have a balance between quality characters and quality players, and the Nuggets (who didn't really have that in the first place) are now completely out of balance there.
Chapman, on the other hand, may be a decent guy with good basketball know-how, but I doubt he's a master of salary cap economics or statistics. He did, after all, only go to college for two years, and it was at the "University" of Kentucky (hmmm...just like former disastrous GM Dan Issel).
In other words, there's no reason to have any faith in Warkentien and Chapman's ability to build a championship. Warkentien has essentially failed upward thanks to a crony run old boys network within the NBA, and Chapman remains his novice right hand man.
Myth #4: The Clippers had the market cornered for Camby, and this was all the Nuggets could do.
This is the most frustrating one for me. If management is under a mandate or whatever from Kroenke to slash payroll and Camby had to go, I say fine. I'm not going to demand that the Nuggets continue paying into the luxury tax for a team that won't win a title. But at the very least, they owe it to us fans to explore every possible trade scenario (including pre-draft and three way deals) to keep the team competitive while flexible cap-wise, and clearly that didn't happen here. It's inconceivable - IN-CON-THEE-VABLE! - that the Clippers were the only team in the NBA willing to take on an All-Star caliber player like Camby with a reasonable salary.
If I was Warkentien and Chapman and my boss ordered me to shed payroll, I would have kept my own first round pick this summer and moved Camby prior to the draft for (at the very least) an extra first rounder. A few years ago, the Pistons - a team under a constant mandate to keep salaries reasonable - were able to move on from letting defensive star center Ben Wallace leave for nothing by immediately restocking the barn through the draft with Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson. There's no reason to believe the Nuggets couldn't have done something similar.
Myth #5: George Karl has the full support of management and they're on the same page.
If you read Karl's reaction to the Camby trade, he was clearly and justifiably stunned. Knowing that Karl also wanted Najera to be re-signed, it's obvious that he has no input in personnel decisions - something he allegedly asked for when former GM Kiki Vandeweghe's contract was in limbo in 2005. Say what you want about Karl (and I've certainly said a lot), but I'll take his track record of 870+ coaching victories any day of the week over the Kroenke Cronies who are running the team. Management is basically sandbagging Karl with a small, injury prone team that he'll have to navigate through the even tougher Western Conference next season. In other words, don't be surprised if Karl mails in another season daring management to fire him. Oh, joy.
Myth #6: The Nuggets are in prime position to capitalize on the 2010 free agent market.
This was one of the biggest myths posted about in the comments yesterday. Thanks to K-Mart's $16.5 million 2010-11 salary staring us in the face - to go along with Anthony's $17 million, Nene's $11 million and J.R. Smith's likely $7+ million that season - the Nuggets will be scrambling to sign one mid-level free agent in 2010. And that's if they're willing to exceed the luxury tax threshold again. I'd rather see the Nuggets work through the draft - as Detroit, Boston, the LA Lakers and Utah have done - to improve the team around their star players. But, hey, that would require, you know...drafting.
Myth #7: The Nuggets will be effective playing small ball.
Even with the new "no hand checking rules" and the dominance of point guards in the NBA, size still matters. Especially in the Western Conference. I don't know who the Nuggets are fooling in terms of how this team - sans Camby or a worthy Camby replacement - will stack up against the giant big men who still reside in the Western Conference. Imagine Anthony, Martin and Nene going up against the Lakers' Bynum, Gasol and Odom, or the Suns' O'Neal, Stoudamire and Diaw, or the Jazz's Okur, Kirilenko and Boozer, or the Trailblazers' Oden and Aldridge, or the (gulp) Clippers' Kaman, Camby and Thornton.
Now, according to the Rocky Mountain News, the Nuggets are talking about bringing Francisco Elson and Chris Andersen back to Denver as replacements for Camby's production. This reminds me of when the Nuggets replaced Dikembe Mutombo with Ervin "Don't Call Me Magic" Johnson in 1996.
Unfortunately for us die hard Nuggets fans, the more things change, the more they stay the same.