Well, that was fast. Today was a rather big day in the breaking news section of Denver Stiffs. First, we learned that Gary Harris could miss up to four weeks with a foot injury, joining Will Barton on the list of hobbled two guards. Next, reports surfaced, and were confirmed by the Denver Nuggets, that 15th man Jarnell Stokes was released and now Shams Charania is reporting that the Nuggets will sign wing player Alonzo Gee. These moves are of course not a coincidence.
Denver is finalizing a deal with free agent Alonzo Gee, league sources tell The Vertical. Nuggets adding needed wing depth.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 16, 2016
With Harris and Barton out, the Nuggets needed to add depth to the wing, particularly the two guard position but with a full roster they needed to let someone go in order to make room to add a shooting guard. With Stokes being the only non-guaranteed contract on the roster he was the natural choice, despite seeing some game action recently. Gee makes sense to bring in the fold as well. The seven year veteran has shown the ability to be a regular rotation player, including in 2012-2013 when he started all eighty-two games of the regular season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Gee also has familiarity with the organization and GM Tim Connelly. Connelly brought Gee in for a training camp invite in 2014, where he leveraged an outstanding camp and pre-season performance into a spot on the regular season roster.
Gee’s time with the Nuggets was short lived. He appeared in 39 games before being part of the Arron Afflalo deal that brought in Barton from the Portland Trailblazers. After appearing in just 15 games with the Blazers, Portland elected not to re-sign the NBA journeyman at the end of 2014-2015 season. Gee nonetheless was able to continue his career last season where he had a fairly successful campaign with the New Orleans Pelicans, appearing in 73 games and averaging over 22 minutes per game as a regular rotation player in an admittedly depleted New Orleans lineup. When this season began the Pelicans elected to take a flyer on Lance Stephenson, which made Gee expendable and he was released. Now he once again finds a chance to make an impact on the court as an injury replacement with the Nuggets.
While signing Gee makes a lot of sense for the Nuggets, given he fits a position of need and also has familiarity with the organization, it is a bit interesting that Denver elected to go with him instead of recent cast away Axel Toupane. Toupane closed out the season with the Nuggets last year, and had some meaningful moments as the season closed. He also looked strong during Summer League. However, it seems as Toupane fell out of favor with the team in the pre-season where he got minimal minutes and was released, he is currently playing for the Toronto Raptors D-League squad. It would seem as though the team felt more comfortable relying on Gee than they did Toupane. The only question is for how long? Denver followed a similar path last season where Erick Green won the final roster spot but was released early in the season in favor of Kostas Papanikolaou. However Kostas would not make it the full season either, ultimately earning his release from the Nuggets in January of 2016 just days before his contract was to become guaranteed. Only time will tell if Gee can make it through the entire season on the roster like he did last year with the Pelicans, or if he’s doomed to be searching for his next NBA gig in just a few months.