We get quite a few emails and rather than answer them all individually, sometimes I'll borrow the popular "Mailbag" feature that guys like Bill Simmons made famous. Here are a few emails I have received over the past month that I thought would be good to address to a wider audience since I hear a lot of what I've printed below from various Nuggets fans.
Let's get to it ...
First, thank you for all you do at Denver Stiffs. Great reporting and I can only hope you continue doing it for a long time (although I bet you have somewhat loftier goals in mind for all of the time you are investing in this reporting).
On to the main question. If the Nuggets are not shooting for never never land but are in fact heading towards tanks-ville, what will that make the 2014-2015 season look like? How old will our core be, how much time is remaining on their contracts, what will our cap space look like, and what is the draft pick situation? I know we gave up a 1st round pick for Andre [Iguodala] last year but I thought there were some picks left from the Melo trade. And finally who, (besides Lebron [James]) is going be on the market next year?
Anyway, just wondering. Happy Monday
Pretty tacky for me to include the compliment at the beginning, but it's nice to hear. This is a fantastic and very wide ranging question. I should probably just run it alone and answer it completely, but let's try to answer this one in simpler fashion.
The Nuggets have seven guaranteed contracts on the books for the 2014-15 season in: Ty Lawson, JaVale McGee, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, J.J. Hickson, Randy Foye, and Anthony Randolph. They could have eight once we find out what happens with restricted free agent Timofey Mozgov. The Nuggets have team options on three players in Evan Fournier, Kenneth Faried, and Jordan Hamilton - the trio is due for rookie options starting in 2014-15. If Faried and Hamilton are extended then they will be eligible for qualifying offers for the 2015-16 season and Fournier will have another team option for the 2015-16 season before his qualifying offer season in 2016-17. Denver has two non-guaranteed deals (partial guarantees) for 2014-15 in Andre Miller and Quincy Miller - meaning the team could essentially buy them out. Nate Robinson and Darrell Arthur have player options for the 2014-15 season. We also continue to wait on an Erick Green contract offer. You can see all that on Hoopsworld.
If the team stays intact it will be a little more expensive, but nobody is due for a big raise on their current contracts for the 2014-15 season - looking at around $67 million. As far as draft picks go - the Nuggets do owe a 2014 pick to the Orlando Magic in the Iguodala deal, but they are also owed a pick from the Knicks and the Nuggets will get to keep the better of the two picks and will send the other to the Magic. Denver owns all their first-round picks after that (for now) and the Knicks pick in 2016 can be swapped with the Nuggets' pick (again whichever one is more favorable) - so Denver won't have two picks in 2016 because of that, but the option to swap picks if New York's is the better selection. All the pick info can be found here.
The 2014 free agent period could be the wildest in NBA history. Any time LeBron James could be a potential free agent, it's a big deal. Consider that LeBron, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Luol Deng, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant could all change teams ... and that's just the unrestricted guys!
I still have trouble seeing the Heat players walk away from two more years on their deals. I would be surprised if Melo left New York (even though he could opt out of the final year of his deal that will pay him $24.3M). The true unrestricted guys: Kobe, Deng, Nowitzki, and Gasol could be nice gets, but not as sexy as that previous list.
We certainly are not seeing teams (yet) dump salary like they did the first time LeBron was set to become a free agent.
Thanks for the question Justin.
I'm a HUGE fan of the coaching change, it needed to happen and was time. It seems like most of the Denver media members are on Karl's payroll and keep harping on the firing. It's funny how content they are on just making the playoffs or winning 57 games.
I'm not a big fan of the player moves so far I wanted more. The nuggets put all their eggs in the Iggy basket and waited too long for his response and missed out on all the quality free agents. I'm glad he is gone, we made the playoffs the year before without him and played a better playoff series then last year.
I do think the front office has another move up their sleeves...or they better!
The traditional media guys in Denver don't have a rooting interest in the Nuggets, so you have to take the "funny how content they are" part out of the equation. I do agree, it was time to make a coaching change and I'm excited to see what Brian Shaw can do. Hopefully people won't rush to judge Shaw until the roster settles down a bit. Teams are always in roster flux it seems, but it would be nice to see the Nuggets find a core to build around. I had a stat on Masai Ujiri that he had turned over, at least, 19 players during his tenure and Tim Connelly has been busy as well. It has been a rollercoaster ride for Nuggets fans the past few years.
I did receive this email before the signing of Nate Robinson, but I don't think that is the big move that Joe would be looking for. We may not see Connelly's true vision for this team for a few seasons. Ujiri was here for three seasons and his vision was still not complete - patience is key, but Nuggets fans have been waiting for three seasons plus now to see a direction. Ujiri's plan might have been unfolding, but we will never know.
I can't believe I'm going to say this ... but, we have to sign Mozgov. Randolph is too small, Hickson too short, Javale gets tired too easily. Who else is going to to play D at center? Are we about to overpay for MOZGOV?!?
Corey (no confirmation on if it was Brewer) sent this email on July 12th and Mozgov is still out there dangling in restricted free agency purgatory. I could go on a rant about how pointless RFA is and how it artificially inflates the market and reminds me of the Netflix show House of Cards, but we'll steer clear of the "chess vs checkers" stuff there.
From what I gathered in Las Vegas, I would say that Mozgov will be back with the team, but I'm also wrong a lot. Mozgov joined Tim Connelly, Josh Kroenke, and Brian Shaw in the stands during the Nuggets' first summer league game (Moz trains in Vegas) and I spotted him with the team on a couple of other occasions. Obviously the Nuggets are courting him, but he also knows the staff and some guys that played on the summer squad well. Shaw gave an interview on NBA TV where he talked about having Moz on the team, so the interest is there (video linked below).
The Nuggets would be wise to sign Mozgov before Greg Oden inks with a new team, but it's also in Mozgov's best financial interest to wait out Oden. Once Oden signs, teams that lose out (Kings, Spurs, others?) on him could turn their attention to Timo. Will the Nuggets get Mozgov at a price they want or will they allow another team to set the market for him? No matter what happens, Denver will be able to match any offer he signs with a three-day period to decide.
One would think the longer Moz sits the more money he may be asking for ...
I just want to say without continually reading the Stiffs webpage I would be completely out of the loop. Especially since your website is one of the only sports web pages that I can see on my internet connection while deployed. I just wanted to tell you thank you for doing a fantastic job keeping up with the Nuggets, you have made it that much easier for me while sailing on this deployment overseas. All of you at Denver Stiffs, if I was able to I would comment there, but with our capabilities and limited bandwidth on the ship I cannot. The comments and everything are just great I usually check it a couple times a day and read to find out everything I need to as a Nuggets fan I am so glad I found your website 2 ½ years ago. And when I get back I will have more chats with you during the season.
This is one of the best emails I've ever received. A few of my buddies I grew up with served in the military and I know how precious their time was. It's cool to know that the work Jeff Morton, Andrew Feinstein, Colin Neilson, and I put in is useful, helpful, or entertaining for folks in all walks of life. I can only speak for myself, but I do this because I love writing and I couldn't be more grateful for all of you that read our site and that have become a part of our community. The commenting side isn't for everyone and it's cool to meet people at our events that say, "I don't comment, but I read Stiffs all the time." It's because of all of you that we've been able to grow and will continue to try to bring you insight on your favorite team.
We saw a special team last season and we've rolled with the changes together. We've gone through Melo's early years, the playoff losses, the amazing Western Conference Finals run with Chauncey Billups, Melo's exit, Lawson's emergence, the arrival of Gallo, Chandler, Mozgov, and Koufos, the new young guys in Faried, Hamilton, Fournier, and now the arrivals of Foye, Hickson, Arthur, and Robinson.
We're always in this together.
If you have a question you'd want to see in a future Mailbag, contact me with the information below. If you want me to ask a question to a player, coach, or whomever you can always send those along too and I'll do my best to get you some answers.
Nate_Timmons on Twitter
Here is that Brian Shaw interview about Mozgov and Shaw's vision for a playing style: