Coming off a sub-par performance in the month of December, the Nugs now have more losses than the Spurs and are in danger of falling behind the Suns and Blazers in the standings as well. With the latest news that Chauncey may not be ready to return from injury for the Jazz game, the upcoming week presents a critical point in the season with two important decisions to be carefully considered.
First is the Chucky Atkins trade exception, worth $3.2 million. It expires on January 7th. When the Iverson exception worth $7.4 million expired on November 3rd, the Nuggets were in the midst of the best start in franchise history and didn't appear to have any glaring roster weaknesses. Since then we have seen the effects of injury on this team. Keep in mind the Nuggets don't have to use the whole $3.2 million amount. The exception can be used to acquire players of any salary up to that amount. So once it expires, the Nuggets will have lost some flexibility as a tax team and be left with a $3.6 million exception from the Steven Hunter trade which expires next August. The Hunter exception is more valuable, but if the Nuggets plan on making a smaller, under the radar move to bring in some help - they should probably think about using some of the Atkins exception. I have said all along a trade will not help, which brings me to the next important deadline.
George Karl has turned down 1-year and 2-year extension offers to remain coaching the Nuggets. Apparently they do not want to guarantee a third year and GK is looking for long term security. As Chris Tomasson reported, negotiations with Karl have been ongoing for months and both sides are working with the first of they year as soft deadline. Next week if the Nuggets do not raise their offer to Karl, both sides should walk away from negotiations and leave it for next season. In my mind it's a distraction for everyone as long as the decision remains in limbo.
I won't repeat what I have said already, in my mind a trade will only bring another would-be contributor to a front row seat with the likes of Balkman and Graham. Maybe a roster shakeup would bring about some change in philosophy that would extend the rotation. My fear is that Kenyon, Nene, and Melo are playing way too many minutes this early. Getting some front-line help either from existing personnel or a trade would certainly not hurt. Either way, for Stan the Man and our front office, winning this year should remain the focus. And any money spent next week would be best used in pursuit of that. What say you?