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Are we looking at our J.R. Smith insurance policy?...

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Flip-murray_mediumWith the NBA suspending J.R. Smith for seven games, the Nuggets seem to be aggressively looking at backup two-guards.  The latest name to come up is Ronald "Flip" Murray.

According to AOL Fanhouse's (I'm still getting used to that) Chris Tomasson, the Nuggets have offered Murray - a points producer wherever he's been - a one-year, $1.1 million contract.  For that price, while I wouldn't call it a steal it's definitely a bargain.  After all, Murray averaged 12.2 ppg last season on a career best 44.7% shooting.

Murray is one of those classic "if he played 36 minutes" guys.  Meaning, if you take Murray's per-minute production and expand it into starters' minutes, he in theory would average about 18 ppg.  But the reality is that Murray isn't a 36 minutes-per-game player, nor do you want or need him to be.  He's a great scorer, not a great shooter, and a marginal defender who's good for about one theft per game.  That being said, there's little doubt he'd fill in admirably during Smith's absence.

Another name floated by Tomasson is that of Keith Bogans, whose career 39% shooting makes Murray look like a marksman.  Bogans is a little taller (by one inch) and a little younger (by one year) over Murray, but I've never seen him make a shot in all the times I've watched him play.  But we're talking bargain basement guys here, so beggars can't be choosers. 

Moreover, it won't be Murray/Bogans who will get that starting two-guard call when the season begins.  It will likely be Arron Afflalo who, also in theory, should provide the type of defense vs. offense contrast that the Nuggets got at two-guard last season with Dahntay Jones manning the position before Smith would enter games.

Given how tough the Nuggets schedule will be and the improvements made by San Antonio and Portland in the offseason, the Nuggets won't be able to take a game off.  Lets hope that the combination of Afflalo and Murray or Bogans - if either eventually signs with Denver - can just hold down the fort during Smith's absence.

 

Photo courtesy of Lance Murphey, AP