I know that everyone's tempers are flaring and people are saying things that they don't mean (including myself), but take a minute to cool down and think about what you would do if you were the Denver Nuggets General Manager for the next year. Put yourself in Mr. Kroenke's shoes. There are still many questions to be answered for next year. Does K Mart sign his player option? Do we blow up the roster and start all over? Who do we keep? Who do we trade? Who do we let go? I'll give you my opinion, and I'd also like to know yours.
The first question is if K-Mart signs his player option or not. I guess we'll really find out if K-Mart is just in it for the money, or if a championship means anything to him. If he's just in it for the money, there's no way that K-Mart leaves because there's no way that he's going to get paid $16.5 Mil next year anywhere else but Denver. If a championship means anything to him, I see K-Mart leaving for another serious contender while taking a huge pay cut. Who knows, maybe he thinks the Nuggets are a contender and wants to get paid, but in my eyes, the Nuggets aren't as close to championship contention unless they go way over the cap and sign a big name free agent to play in the post. I don't think Mr. Kroenke will do that; therefore, I think K-Mart leaves, opening up $16.5 million for the Nuggets to use on FA's next offseason.
Total Salary: $56,814,231
The first thing that I would do is sign Arron Afflalo to a long term deal. Something like Bird's deal with an extra year or two. He's not an elite player, but he's a winner and a hard worker. You never hear him saying something negative and he's a great locker room guy, a great defender, and a solid 3 point threat. I see Afflalo being our version of Ariza in LA last year. The Nuggets sign Afflalo to a 4 year, $20 mil deal.
Cap Hit: 5 Million/ year
New Salary: $61,814,231
The second thing that I would look to do is trade JR Smith. I don't dislike JR, but I hate his inconsistency. One out of seven games he is among the top 15 players in the league, but the other six games he's a non-factor. I look for the Nuggets to trade him and hopefully we can get some decent value in return.
Cap hit: None (JR contract and new player's contract cancel each other out)
New Salary: $61,814,231
Obviously, the third thing the Nuggets need to do is look for post depth. With the loss of K-Mart they desperately need a post player. Anderson is getting older and isn't the player he used to be. My best case scenario would be to grab Brendan Haywood from Dallas since he turns into an UFA after this season. He's big, young, and can play center, allowing Nene move to PF where most people say he belongs. I think Haywood can be had for a 3 year, $21 Mil deal. Other UFA possibilities could be Luis Scola (HOU), Shelden Williams (BOS), Drew Gooden (LAC), Kurt Thomas (MIL), Aaron Gray (NOH), David Lee (NYK), Juwan Howard (POR), and none other but Carlos Boozer (UTA). By the way, those are only the UFA's. There's tons of players that have options to opt out such as, Yao Ming (HOU), Amare' Stoudemire (PHO), Chris Bosh (TOR), Dirk Nowitzki (DAL), and Tyson Chandler (NOH).
Cap hit: $7 Million/ year
New Salary: $68,814,231
Finally, I think the Nuggets should sign Joey Graham and Johan Petro to long term deals as well. I think something along 4 years, $12 Mil. would get the job done and I think Graham is more than capable to be a backup for Melo. I loved what I saw tonight once he got the opportunity to play and I think he made the most of it. He's young, strong, and has tremendous upside. I also liked what I saw from when Petro when he got opportunity. I think he can be a project, yet still have productful minutes. I think Petro would agree to a 2 year, $2 Mil. deal. Sign them.
Cap hit: $4 Million/ year.
New Salary: $72,814,231
So.. If my best case scenario comes true... We will have...
PG- Chauncey, Lawson
SG- Afflalo, Someone in return for JR
SF- Anthony, Graham, Balkman
PF- Nene, Bird
C- Haywood, Petro
All in all, I see the Nuggets adding a bigger, better big man compared to K-Mart. Denver now has its legitimate Center. I see us keeping Graham, Petro, and Afflalo around. We lose JR, but we add another player (no clue who I would want) and Ty becomes the old instant offense that JR used to supply us with. I see this Nuggets team being much more well rounded than the one this year.