Did I miss something here?
Last I checked, the Nuggets just completed their third straight 50-win season despite losing their head coach to cancer and their best defender for much of the regular season.
Last I checked, the Nuggets are just two seasons removed from coming within two bad inbounds plays of appearing in the NBA Finals.
Last I checked, Carmelo Anthony is under contract for at least two more years (unless he opts out after this upcoming season) and the Nuggets offered him an incredibly generous extension.
Last I checked, Nuggets head coach George Karl is one of the best coaches in the NBA and gives his players a tremendous amount of freedom and autonomy on the floor. Nevermind that he'll have one of the most inspiring comebacks in NBA history when the regular season tips off in late October.
Last I checked, the Nuggets are led on the floor by a former NBA Finals MVP in Chauncey Billups who will do anything for another ring, even if it means ceding the point guard spot and playing shooting guard.
Last I checked, the Nuggets are owned by a basketball-obsessed owner with the deepest of deep pockets.
Last I checked, the Nuggets are one of only three NBA teams to have appeared in the last seven consecutive postseasons.
Last I checked, Denver remains as one of the preeminent sports cities in the United States and has more sunny days a year than San Diego, Miami, Orlando and certainly New York, Dallas or Portland.
And yet, when the Chris Pauls, LeBron Jameses, Dwyane Wades, Chris Boshes and so forth seek their next NBA destination, Denver never makes the list.
What are we, chopped liver?
Maybe the Nuggets marketing department needs to turn their attention away from selling tickets and towards selling Denver as one of the great destinations in the NBA. Because clearly, the message isn't getting across.
But for now, allow me to sell Chris Paul on joining the Nuggets.
First off, the Nuggets are one of the few teams in the NBA who can throw "the kitchen sink" at the Hornets in order to get Paul into a Denver uniform. To part with a player of Paul's caliber, the Hornets will insist on expiring contracts, young prospects, a plethora of future first round draft picks and accepting overpaid but effective center Emeka Okafor in the deal. The Nuggets can make such a deal happen by offering Kenyon Martin (expiring contract), J.R. Smith (expiring contract), Ty Lawson (young prospect) and however many picks the Hornets want.
Comparatively, the Magic - one of Paul's "desired" destinations - can offer Vince Carter (expiring contract) and Jameer Nelson (solid point guard but not so young anymore) plus picks, or Carter plus Marcin Gortat (a legit big man to replace Okafor). The others on Paul's list? The Mavericks have only Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler's expiring contracts to offer New Orleans, and while I can't imagine Chandler going back to the Big Easy stranger things have happened. Portland could offer any combination of Andre Miller and Joel Pryzbilla's expiring contracts plus Rudy Fernandez or Greg Oden - or may have to part with LaMarcus Aldridge to get Paul to Portland, which automatically weakens the Blazers upon Paul's arrival. And the Knicks have...well...virtually nothing to offer and would have trouble making the money work if Okafor has to be involved.
Secondly, should Paul and Okafor come to Denver, a Paul/Chauncey Billups backcourt combined with a Melo/Nene/Okafor frontcourt and Al Harrington/Arron Afflalo/Chris Andersen bench immediately makes the Nuggets the second-best team in the Western Conference. And with Kobe Bryant recently undergoing his third knee surgery, you have to believe the Lakers dynasty will end sooner than later. If Paul wants to win and win big, Denver and Orlando are two of his better options.
And thirdly, Paul's arrival would most certainly be preceded by Melo signing his extension. A Paul/Melo duo into the future could make the Nuggets contenders for years to come (dare I say, the Nuggets next Fat Lever/Alex English?), making Denver a hot spot for another big free agent.
I can understand the appeal of the Magic (play with Dwight Howard, face off against the Miami "superfriends" four times a year, pay no state income tax), Mavericks (Mark Cuban will do anything for a ring), Knicks (play in the best city in the US) and Portland (Paul Allen will also do anything for a ring). But Denver should be equally if not more appealing than any of those aforementioned destinations.
So when Chris Paul meets with the Hornets on Monday to discuss his future and dictate his trade-me-or-lose-me terms, he should add a fifth city to his wish list. The one that sits at approximately 5,280 feet above sea level and could be on the verge of a basketball dynasty should Paul play his cards right.
Photo courtesy of AP: David Zalubowski