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No more excuses for Karl and Melo...

I want to double down on Tuesday's Mark Kiszla column in the Denver Post in which he set his sights on Nuggets head coach George Karl, but I'm throwing in Carmelo Anthony, too.

Despite being paid $3 million to coach and $14 million to play for our Nuggets, Karl and Melo have been able to skate by on an assortment of excuses since their remarkable 32-8 run in 2005 upon Karl's arrival.

In 2005-06 it was injuries to Nene, Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin.

In 2006-07 it was "the brawl" (for which Karl and Melo shoulder equal blame along with worst-person-ever Isiah Thomas), integrating Allen Iverson plus more injuries to Nene and K-Mart.

In 2007-08 it was injuries to Nene and Chucky Atkins plus "conditioning."

And this season it was going to be cost cutting by upper management, stripping the team of their best interior defender and hustle player off the bench.

But with the acquisition of Chauncey Billups (and possibly Antonio McDyess), it's clear that Nuggets management is committed to winning now. And thus, Karl and Melo are out of excuses.

An NBA squad that starts Melo, Nene, K-Mart, Billups and J.R. Smith, and has a bench featuring McDyess, Anthony Carter, Linas Kleiza, Renaldo Balkman and Chris Andersen shouldn't just be a playoff team. It should be a dangerous playoff team.

Read: it's a team that - at a minimum - wins a first round series if your coach and superstar player are worth their salt.

With the Suns, Mavericks and Spurs looking old and slow, the Rockets struggling out of the gate to mesh their "Big Three," and the Trailblazers minus Greg Oden for about a month, the Nuggets shouldn't be focused on just making the playoffs but getting home court in the first round of the playoffs.

And I won't accept the "we didn't have a training camp to work together" excuse because, in my opinion, Billups only has two good years left before he becomes the 2010-2011 version of Michael Finley (i.e. an overpaid former All-Star guard). So we have to get what we can out of Billups this season and next.

While I still have no faith in the Kroenke Cronies ability to build a championship caliber organization, they deserve credit for making the Nuggets as competitive as possible given the restraints imposed on them by K-Mart's contract and AI's that was due to expire. In fact, this new edition of the Denver Nuggets should be able to beat anyone on any given night except perhaps the Lakers and Celtics.

But whether that happens or not is up to Karl and Melo. No excuses.