I landed in Denver on Tuesday evening, a couple hours too late to make it to Jake's and Stiffs Night Out, and immediately texted SuperStiff Nate Timmons to learn the lottery fate of our Denver Nuggets, and was at least pleased to have not gotten bumped further down the ladder (as who really believes the Nuggets will ever find their way into lottery luck?). With our lack of lotto luck, the way the first six picks shake out will make for an interesting selection for Denver. My colleague Andrew Feinstein wrote a terrific piece on how the Nuggets selection could impact Denver's coaching situation, and there's are a few other items it could impact on the roster as well.
The reason for the Colorado trip is a long overdue Spring cleaning trip to our house to finally get back around to cleaning up several things we left behind in our scamper to L.A. several years back. It's going to be a hell of a time, as there is a lot to be done, but even the first day of filling a huge dumpster with assorted crap was amazingly cathartic. Sometimes you just need to shed a few things to finally move forward.
There may be some Spring cleaning coming our way for the Nuggets as well, though it may be Summer by the time we get further down this path. Depending on which key piece falls to Denver at the seven slot, it could impact our roster in a number of ways. Rumors abound that the Nuggets are looking to make some roster moves in offseason, and with the results of the last two Nuggets campaigns, it's hard to argue that something has to change. So... who's the most likely candidate to NOT be a Denver Nugget this upcoming season? A few possibilities:
Ty Lawson (two seasons remaining on contract)
The most likely scenario that greased the skids for Lawson's Denver departure was a bit of lottery luck that landed Denver one of the young point guard studs available at the top of the draft. With the odds of either of those gents (D'Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay) falling to the seventh slot near zero, Denver may not be so hasty to part ways with Ty.
That said, the romance looks to be over between Lawson and Denver, as well-chronicled here on Denver Stiffs and many other Denver outlets. As crafty as Tim Connelly has shown himself to be the last two seasons, there are still possibilities for Ty's flying the Nuggets coop by next season's start.
Danilo Gallinari (one season remaining on contract)
After Jeff Morton stops screaming at me, there's at least some small argument to be made that Gallo may be the most valuable piece of the current Nuggets squad. Depending on the nature of how Denver decides to rebuild their team, Gallo is an attractive trade chip as well, though he only has one year remaining on his current deal.
Though many (current company included) would be sad to see him go, if a sweetheart deal came down the pipe for Gallinari, Denver would be wise to entertain a chance to improve the team if better fortunes come knocking.
Wilson Chandler (one season remaining on contract)
Ill-Wil was the most consistent cog in Denver's fluctuating season last year, and is still a threat on both ends of the floor, with solid-to-smothering defense, depending on the game and matchup, and an inside-out game that makes him tough on the offensive end as well. Chandler would be an attractive piece for many teams trying to get themselves over a playoff hump, especially as competitive as the Western Conference has proven to be the last few seasons.
With the upside Chandler provides, Denver would need an attractive package in return to send Wilson on his way.
Kenneth Faried (four seasons remaining on new contract extension)
The Manimal had an up-and-down year last season coming off of his Team USA star turn, and is heading into a lucrative four-year deal that kicks in next season. When at his peak, Faried is a terror on the floor, scooping up boards at both ends in bunches, and scoring on every leftover that doesn't find the bottom of the net on the offensive end.
When running at lesser levels, Faried can be a defensive liability and outmatched by bigs much larger than he. But for a team looking to add some punch and energy to their output, the Manimal could be the bit of octane that gets them over the top.
The rest of the field
The remainder of the Nuggets squad falls into a number of categories, and none of them untouchable, just less likely to be amongst a Denver departure, or a part of something larger. From last season's team, Darrell Arthur, Will Barton, and Ian Clark all wrapped up their contractual agreements, so Denver would need to bring them back into the fold just to have them be a part of a deal.
The youngsters, Jusuf Nurkic, Gary Harris, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Erick Green are all under their rookie deals, and are still growing, so seem unlikely to be shipped out unless also part of something bigger. The remaining vets, J.J. Hickson, Jameer Nelson (player option), and Randy Foye (non-guaranteed deal, decided on by team by July 11), all have reasons their departure seems unlikely. Hickson's deal is the highest amongst the three, with even national sports wags singling Hickson out as a player with holes in his game, so any deals involving him would probably be to move him along as part of a package. Nelson's remaining year is at his option, so he may decide to move along of his own accord, depending on the need for point guards as Summer progresses. Foye's numbers fell off last year from a solid first year in Denver, but even if he is a part of an outbound Denver deal, he's probably either part of a package or something of a lateral nature.
So, if something has to give... it doesn't, but we're probably all familiar with the definition of insanity that's attributed to Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin, and many others... the four gents listed above seem the most likely way for your Denver Nuggets to shake things up headed into next year. Though the recipe for any of them is consistent to do something major - bring in something better for the team than you send out - it seems like one of those four will likely be wearing a different jersey at season's start. If so, which of them do you think the most likely to be on their way?
Talk to me, Nuggets Nation!