The Denver Nuggets have made the decision to retain Chris Andersen and the two years and roughly $9 million left on his contract, according to Marc Stein of ESPN. The amnesty deadline is today, and rumors started to swirl late Monday night that Denver was considering buying out the 34 year-old Birdman. Just because the Nuggets brass has chosen not to amnesty the former fan favorite, doesn't mean he'll still be on the roster for the upcoming 2012-13 season. But for now, he's still a Nugget.
The big question now, what does keeping Andersen mean for the Denver Nuggets?
We could be talking about much ado about nothing here if the Nuggets are able to package Birdman in a trade before the season, likely around Halloween. But if Andersen is on the roster come opening night, it could be a distraction that could have been nipped in the bud today.
Last season, Andersen fell out of George Karl's rotation in favor of Timofey Mozgov, Kosta Koufos, Al Harrington, Kenneth Faried, and eventually JaVale McGee. And then before Game 6 in Denver, news broke that Andersen was under investigation by the Douglas County Sheriff's Internet Crimes Against Childen department. After that, Andersen was dismissed from participating in all team activity and wasn't on the bench for Game 6, didn't travel with the team to Los Angeles for Game 7, and hasn't been heard from since.
A person is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. But in today's world, whatever happens with the Andersen investigation will stick with him for the rest of his career. The word "Kiddie Porn" has been thrown around in social media when the topic of Andersen comes up - fair or not. Many people either don't know or don't care that the other person involved in this case might be the one who was trying to extort money from Andersen after hiding her true identity from him. From an Associated Press story picked up by ESPN:
Even if Andersen is found innocent, his image has been tainted in the public eye.
Will parents allow their children to wear the popular blue and yellow Mohawk wigs sold at the Pepsi Center in Andersen's likeness? The question I've been posed by people - "What is a 34 year-old even doing talking with a teenager?" Yes, 18 years-old is the legal age for an adult to make their own decisions of who they date, but the perception of large age differences being odd is still out there. If this woman was really pretending to be 21 years-old does that make a difference? These types of issues and questions are ones that a franchise trying to build a team of quality young men shouldn't want to be associated with.
Does this all really come down to dollars? If so, that doesn't make a ton of sense. Do the Nuggets really not want to pay Andersen $9 million to just go away? Birdman's trade value couldn't be any lower and he was supposedly on the trade block last season before his legal issues with no takers.
Today the Nuggets had a chance to disassociate themselves from Andersen, but they declined to do so. Should the fans stick by Andersen's side like the organization is doing? Will the casual fan ever let this issue go?
Birdman's story was once one of an incredible comeback from substance abuse, now Nuggets Nation is left to wonder how his story will end.
Nate_Timmons on Twitter https://twitter.com/Nate_Timmons