Grading Wark

As the trade deadline approaches and with the possibility of the Nuggets making a move to acquire another big man, I thought I would take the time to look back at how Wark has done in his time in charge. Also, it's just fun to look at how we got to where we are today.  I'll give my grade and thoughts both at the time (AT) (trying to be as honest as I can) and in hindsight (HS) on the significant transactions of the Wark era. I'll leave out any transactions that had zero impact on the Nuggets, such as signing summer league players and such, and no-brainers like picking up rookie options. (Just as a side note, how hard is it for ESPN, the NBA, or anyone for that matter to keep an accurate list of a team's transactions? Apparently impossible. If you know of an accurate site that would be appreciated. If I didn't follow every detail of the Nuggets during every waking moment of my life and instead tried to rely on any one list, I'd be missing all kinds of stuff. The ESPN site inexplicably misses stuff as basic as both the AI and Billups trades. Hoopshype is good, but not perfect.) Joined the Nuggets in the summer of 2005 as Director of Player Personnel May 5, 2006, Nuggets part way with Kiki, the beginning of the Wark era.

June 29, 2006 Traded the rights to forward Leon Powe to the Boston Celtics for a 2007 second-round pick.
AT: D I love the draft, and we traded out of it entirely. I also thought Powe looked like a decent player.
HS: B+ Although Powe turned out to be an NBA player (with injury concerns, which is what caused him to drop in the first place), this was one of the picks Wark used to get JR.

July 13, 2006 Signed forward Carmelo Anthony to a multi-year contract extension.
AT: A A no-brainer, but getting Melo to commit to that extra year was huge.
HS: A I'm glad we've got Melo on board next year. If he was up this year, he probably would get caught up in all the hype with his buddies Bron and Wade and potentially leave town. But I worry somebody (New York) is going to miss out on all the free agents this year and have a ton of money to throw at Melo next year. Wark has got to get Melo to sign an extension before he hits the market. I think the timing will be good though, as Melo might have to worry about a new CBA in 2011 and so be willing to commit early rather than risk unfavorable new CBA terms.

July 20, 2006 Nuggets re-signed restricted free agent Nene to a multi-year contract
AT: B A no-brainer to re-sign him in my opinion, even with all of the injuries. And I thought he would be worth the money they gave him. But it sure seemed like they had the opportunity to get a better deal than they did.
HS: B Despite early injuries, I think he has been worth every penny. But if they paid him less, we might have had more money for other things.

July 21, 2006 Acquired guard J.R. Smith from the Chicago Bulls for guard Howard Eisley and two second-round picks.
AT: B I loved this trade because I remembered when the Nuggets looked at JR coming out of high school. He supposedly wowed the brass by hitting shots from anywhere out to half court, but he was drafted before we picked (and then we traded our pick, of course). And we gave up nothing of note.
HS: A JR has been better than anyone could have expected. Sure, he is still inconsistent. But he gives this team the chance to be truly elite.

July 27, 2006 Signed forward Yakhouba Diawara.
AT: INC I don't remember having any reaction to this signing.
HS: B Not a remarkable player, but ended up playing quite a bit.

August 11, 2006 Acquired forward Joe Smith from the Milwaukee Bucks for guard-forward Ruben Patterson.
AT: A I loved this trade. Patterson was a marginally talented swingman and a head case;  Smith, a quality, veteran big man. How could the Bucks make this trade?  Am I missing something?
HS: A  Joe Smith became an important component of the AI trade, who in turn became Billups.

Elevated to Vice President of Basketball Operations on Sept. 7, 2006

September 8, 2005 Denver re-signs unrestricted free agent Reggie Evans.
AT: D A high hussle, great rebounding, big bodied big man with absolutely no offensive skills. But that incident in the playoffs? Embarrasing. (Look up Reggie Evans and Manly Touch)
HS: F Turned into Hunter, who turned into us giving Memphis our 1st round pick this year to take him.

October 16, 2006 Signed guard DerMarr Johnson.
See Diawara, above. I would note that DerMarr's best quality was that he was an absolute AI stopper. Which made him almost entirely valueless when the Nuggets subsequently acquired AI.

December 19, 2006 Nuggets acquire Allen Iverson and Ivan McFarlin from Philadelphia in exchange for Andre Miller, Joe Smith and two 1st round selections in the 2007 Draft.
AT: A As much as I loved Miller, I have always been a huge AI fan. And I really enjoyed his time here, though the team was fundamentally flawed by not having a quality point guard or wing to complement AI's deficiencies.

January 11, 2007 PG Steve Blake Traded For E Boykins, J Hodge, and cash.
AT: F I loved Boykins. And I had no respect for Blake.
HS: B Opened up more time for JR, and Blake actually played pretty well next to AI, much better than Boykins could have.

July 17, 2007 Signed guard Chucky Atkins.
AT: B I thought he would be a good fit as a shooting point.
HS: D Never gave us anything of note. He and a first round pick eventually turned into Petro and 3 million dollars (plus no luxury tax last year).

August 31, 2007 Signed guard Anthony Carter.
AT: INC I didn't know that I would one day rue the day the Nuggets gave AC a guaranteed contract.
HS: F--- Western Conference Finals. As I am writing this, AC is inexplicably in the Sacramento game, missing a wide open break away layup. And a wide open three.

September 11, 2007 Acquired center Steven Hunter and forward Bobby Jones from the Philadelphia 76ers for forward Reggie Evans and the draft rights to forward Ricky Sanchez.
AT: B I liked this trade because I remembered a healthier Hunter from his time on the Suns. And I didn't like Evans (Manly Touch)
HS: C Hunter gave us nothing and cost us next years first round draft pick to dump on Memphis. But we would probably have had to do the same with Evans.

June 25, 2008 Traded the 20th overall draft pick to Charlotte for a future protected first round pick.
AT: C I love the draft. I wish we would participate more often. Here, I liked DeAndre Jordan and anybody who was not AC playing point (ie Chalmers)
HS: B We got Billups shortly thereafter and the pick turned into Lawson. But what if that had been Chalmers out there instead of AC in the WCF? Still, Lawson is awesome and we are better off in the long run.

June 25, 2008 Traded a 2009 second round pick to the Portland TrailBlazers for Sonny Weems
AT: B I didn't really understand this, but Weems seemed like an increadible athlete with upside.
HS: D Weems didn't amount to anything.

July 15, 2008 Traded Marcus Camby to the Los Angeles Clippers for NOTHING, i.e., the right to switch second round picks
AT: B+ At this point, I believed that Camby was killing us on both offense, and more damningly, on defense. On offense, Camby jacked up those terrible long jump shots, particularly in crunch time. And if he wasn't invovled, his effort level dropped. On defense, he killed the team defense by not not switching, not showing on pick and rolls, and generally just standing under the basket and going for his own stats, ie blocked shots and rebounds. I thought we might be able to get something more for him, but this was definitely addition by subtraction. And it really cleaned up the balance sheet, giving the Nuggets a much more reasonable allocation of payroll.
HS: B The trade exception got recycled through the Billups trade and part of it turned into Afflalo before it expired. I like Afflalo, but wonder if something more wasn't available. If the Billups trade couldn't have gone through without the exception (I'm a little hazy on the details of how it was invovled in that trade), then this turns into an A.

July 24, 2008 Signed forward Chris Anderson.
AT: B I liked Birdman from his first stint with the Nuggets and thought he could replace the shot blocking Camby provided without all of the Camby negatives.
HS: A Exceeded all expectations. I now own a complete set of Birdman glasses from Arby's as my primary drinking glasses.

July 28, 2008 Acquired forward Renaldo Balkman from the New York Knicks for guard Taurean Green, forward Bobby Jones and a 2010 second round draft pick.
AT: INC I didn't really have any feelings about this trade at the time, other than I knew that for as bad as Isaiah was at every other aspect of being a GM, he had a pretty good eye for talent.
HS: C Balkman has been a decent energy man off the bench in very limited minutes.

July 31, 2008 Signed guard-forward Dahntay Jones.
See Diawara, above.

August 23, 2008 Signed guard J.R. Smith to a multi-year contract.
AT: A I love JR, and this was a totally fair contract for his services, factoring in his inconsistency.
HS: A Still a great contract and an important component of this team. Also, as a side note, he is going to get better this year. He always starts out slow and then heats up in the second half of the season.

October 3, 2008 Signed forward Juwan Howard
AT: B I'm a Howard fan. I think he, even now, is a serviceable big man, who plays for the minimum. Not many of those out there.
November 3-4, 2008 Waived forward Juwan Howard.
AT: A Necessary to complete the Billups trade.
HS: F I can't believe they didn't bring Howard back. They could have used him last year and they could use him this year.

November 3, 2008 Traded guard Allen Iverson to the Detroit Pistons for guard Chauncey Billups and forward Antonio McDyess
AT: B Obviously getting Billups for AI was awesome. AI had clearly finally lost a step in preseason and the first few games. But unless waiving McDyess was an under the table part of the deal or McDyess absolutely refused to play in Denver, we should have kept him. He is still really good and might have been the difference this year or last.
HS: A Billups has been better than I ever anticipated. He has been one of the best players in the league this year. Just amazing.

January 7, 2009 Traded guard Chucky Atkins and 2009 first round pick to OKC for center Johan Petro and 2009 second round pick.
AT: B Got them under the tax, and the difference between a late first and an early second is not that much different, with the second perhaps more valuable because the contracts aren't guaranteed. Also Petro is marginally more useful then Atkins.
HS: INC Move is still fine, but the Nuggets really misused this draft pick, in my opinion, see below. Nuggets still have a trade exception from this trade that could affect this grade.

June 25, 2009 Traded conditional first round pick from Charlotte for guard Ty Lawson
AT: A Loved the Lawson pick. Perfect fit for this team.
HS: A He's been everything we could have hoped for. Currently destroying Sacramento as I write this.

June 25, 2009 Sold second round pick from OKC to the Houston Rockets for 3 million dollars.
AT: F Blair was there for the taking. How can you not use a second round pick on the most NBA ready big man in the draft when you need a big man?
HS: F The only way this makes any sense is if the Nuggets had already agreed to this long before they knew that Blair would be available. But if that is the case, they should have reserved the right to back out in case something like this happened.

July 8, 2009 Re-signed forward Chris Anderson
AT: B I'm a little conflicted about this one. Definitely wanted him back, and the per year amount is right, but the contract goes on forever. Birdman probably could have gotten more per year from someone else though, so this is probably the best that could be done to get him back.
HS: INC. Birdman has been very solid this year, and definitely worth it. But he does look like he's already lost some explosiveness. I'm not too worried though, b/c anyone as tall as he is with a pulse is tradeable at the contract numbers he has into the future.

July 13, 2009 Traded a 2011 second round pick and cash to the Detroit Pistons for guard Arron Afflalo and forward Walter Sharpe
AT: B Used part of the Camby trade exception here. Loved this as an upgrade from Jones. Afflalo is also a good defender and a better three point shooter, which fits well on this team. Jones got a rediculous contract.
HS: A Afflalo has been even better than I expected. Looked great guarding Kobe, and his shooting has really picked up of late.

July 31, 2009 Traded guard Sonny Weems, forward Walter Sharpe, and cash to the Milwaukee Bucks for forward Malik Allen.
AT: B Gave up nothing to get a potentially useful player.
HS: B- Still gave up nothing, but didn't end up getting much either.

August 7, 2009 Traded center Steven Hunter, a protected first round pick, and cash to the Memphis Grizzlies for a future conditional second round pick, i.e. nothing.
AT: D- Purely a salary dumping move, but I gotta think they could have accomplished something better with that first round pick. Plus I love the draft. So Wark must hate me, b/c once again we go into the draft with no draft picks, I believe.
HS: INC Possibly an F, if that first round pick would have allowed the Nuggets to get a quality big man. But we did get another trade exception out of this.

August 14, 2009 Re-signed guard Anthony Carter
AT: F--- I feared that Karl would play AC over Lawson b/c of his irrational man crush on AC.
HS: C- Since Karl is barely playing AC, he is now just a below average third point guard.

August 27, 2009 Re-signed center Johan Petro
AT: C Couldn't they have spent some of this money on keeping their pick and taking Blair?

September 26, 2009 Signed forward Joey Graham
AT: C Never been that big of a fan.
HS: B Has proven somewhat useful so far.

November 1, 2009 Signed forward Renaldo Balkman to a contract extension
AT: B A high energy guy who seemed to make good things happen off the bench.
HS: INC/C He has looked worse this season than last in very limited minutes.

Overall, Wark has done so much better than Kiki that it is not even funny. My suggestion for his next move: Use a trade exception to acquire Fabricio Oberto from the Wizards. A low cost veteran big man who is great in the locker room and has championship experience. I'd feel better turning to Oberto rather than Petro if we need another big man against the Lakers.

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