The Denver Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri spoke about all things related to why the team decided to stand pat at the trade deadline, per Aaron Lopez of Nuggets.com.
Watch the video right here: Click this.
Let's break down what Ujiri said:
1.) Ujiri talks about how the quiet deadline shows what direction the NBA is heading in.
What he might be referring to is the Repeater Tax which was broken down in great detail by Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Here is a snippet from Ziller's excellent piece (a must read for fans):
What is the repeater tax? It's a clause in the new collective bargaining agreement that raises the luxury tax rate for teams that are serial tax payers. It doesn't actually go into effect until 2014-15 as a penalty, but what teams do now affects whether they'll be on the hook then. Basically, if you exceed the tax threshold in three out of the previous four seasons, you're on the hook for the higher tax if you exceed the threshold again. The "clock" began last year. The first year of the repeater tax is in 2014-15. Only teams that have been taxpayers in 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 will pay it. In 2015-16, teams that have paid the tax in three out of four of those seasons will pay repeater tax. Then 2011-12 falls off. And so it goes.
The Repeater Tax is a very costly addition to the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement. I believe this was put into place to hopefully help out the smaller markets and even out the playing field in the NBA, but I fear it, too. I fear it because, to me, this means that smaller market teams may never venture into tax territory and larger market teams may do so from time-to-time because they will truly be the only teams that can afford to dip into these waters.
We just saw the Golden State Warriors deal away two young player at the deadline in Jeremy Tyler and Charles Jenkins to avoid having to pay the luxury tax this season -- probably a smart move for a fringe playoff team.
2.) "We were on the phone ... listening ... seeing what was out there," said Ujiri. "If you bring something in here that is not making a big difference, then you are messing with a couple guys and their growth."
Jeff Morton and I have been discussing this very point all season: the Nuggets cannot make a lateral move. With Josh Smith's name being the only one out there among "star" type players, there was not really anyone Denver could have brought in to put them over a hump (Smith included). Ujiri echoed what he said before the start of the season -- now is a time for growth for the Nuggets.
When I first found out about the move to bring Andre Iguodala to town, I was happy. The main reason? I knew that by bringing in Iguodala, the Nuggets were still in a position to allow Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari to develop into the primary offensive weapons. I still like this path for the Nuggets.
3.) "We're not a contending team," said Ujiri. "We also need to be patient as a team, organization, to grow a little bit."
A tough pill for some to swallow: the Nuggets are not a contending team. As many times as I can talk myself into the Nuggets finding a way to get into the NBA Finals - it's a pipe-dream this season (unless they make it, glass half full!). I am okay with this and think it's fine for Ujiri to say. Those are the facts in the NBA. Don't believe it? Read this piece about homecourt in the playoffs.
If Ujiri can admit this then why is Andre Miller still featured in a prominent role on the team? Our friend Charlie over at Roundball tackled his view on Miller and it's worth a read. I have no issues with Miller being on the team and I think he's a tremendous role player and does great things for JaVale McGee and the team, but his role needs to diminish and George Karl needs to realize that.
The Nuggets cannot have a soon-to-be 37-year-old guard playing a major role in crunch-time with this squad. Ujiri says the team needs to grow - so Karl needs to let the younger guys grow. Wilson Chandler, JaVale McGee and Corey Brewer should eat up Miller's minutes at the end of games. Those are the guys that the front office needs to evaluate and decide if they are the ones to keep building this team with. Eventually (next season) Evan Fournier, Jordan Hamilton and Julyan Stone are going to need time on the floor too.
4.) "We like Mozgov," said Ujiri. "Big guys take a long time to develop and we understand that. We haven't seen the end with him."
Ujiri also mentioned being okay with Moz heading into restricted free agency -- so the Nuggets will extend the qualifying offer of $3.9 million to the Russian after the season and see where things go. Ujiri also touched on Moz being the insurance policy this season and mentioned he may be pressed into action dictated by a match-up.
The Nuggets do not have a track record for letting assets walk for nothing. It will be interesting to see what happens. The Knicks and Timberwolves have been rumored to be interested in the big man after the season and we'll see how it plays out.
This also tells me that the Nuggets might not be sure in their current big men. I thought if Moz was traded that it'd be a vote of confidence for Kosta Koufos, JaVale McGee and Anthony Randolph. Denver can now go into the offseason after a full evaluation on Koufos and McGee and decide how Timofey Mozgov fits into the puzzle.
The Nuggets standing pat and what that means for the offseason
Denver will now have decisions to make on up to five players after the season:
1.) Andre Iguodala: Will he opt-in or opt-out of his $16.1 million deal for the 2013-14 season?
2.) Timofey Mozgov: Ujiri indicated the Nuggets will extend the $3.9 million qualifying offer that makes Timo a restricted free agent. That means the team will be able to match any offer sheet the big man signs with another team.
3.) Corey Brewer: He's on a $3.2 million expiring deal. The Nuggets will let Brewer test the free agency waters this summer and see where things go.
4.) Julyan Stone: The young point guard will be a free agent this summer. The Nuggets can extend a qualifying offer of $1.08 million to make Stone a restricted free agent and go from there. I would think that Denver will extend the offer since they have stuck by Julyan thus far (through injury).
5.) Quincy Miller: His deal for the 2013-14 season of $788K is not fully guaranteed. The Nuggets could buy Miller out after the season if they so choose.
That's where we sit with 27 games left in the season. I'm happy this team is intact and I'm ready for the stretch run. What say you?
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