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Denver Nuggets: Five stages of the offseason

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Indiana Pacers v Denver Nuggets
Will Barton courteously lends his jersey number to our headline
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

I was a few days past the Denver Nuggets season-ending loss when I reached out to one of my favorite Stiffs to vent and lament. I’d been having a much tougher time letting go of the narrow miss than I had in recent seasons, and wanted to do a quick sanity check to make sure I wasn’t alone in my funk. Share the dark cloud? Why not!

We were both smarting a bit from being a hair’s breadth from the playoffs, and talked about why this time around was even tougher than the previous. I walked away feeling better. Validated. Understood. Hopefully, the mystery Stiff was not dragged down into the doldrums and an evening of drink. Fingers crossed. I’ve actually chatted like this with several of the writers at this point. If I kick off a process for anyone today, my apologies.

When I realized it was going to take some time to accept the final outcome of this season, I remembered where acceptance usually comes in the puzzle anyway. I still have four stages to go. But Seth Green tells that story far better than I ever could.

DENIAL

No WAY did that just happen. After that sort of a late-season comeback? After finally breaking through to the plus-side of the win-loss column? We need to go back and look at those fourth quarter foul calls. Or the free throw that maybe didn’t get counted. There could have been one of those, right? I’m sure there’s one more point in that game somewhere. Maybe I’m still dreaming after a bad head injury, and I’ll wake up just in time for game 82. Right? That didn’t just go down to the wire only to come up a millimeter short. No way. Pretty sure this is my current spot on the map. Not really looking forward to...

ANGER

Well that’s just f@#$ing GREAT. Watching another season’s playoff games without a Nugget in sight. Super. Maybe I can just go get a root canal as well, just to keep the good feelings going. Son of a basketball. If I have to hear one more friend who’s a fan of another team give me the “tough break” speech about 30 seconds before bringing up Donovan Mitchell, I may end up with the eye twitch for good...

BARGAINING

(in a quiet spot) So, here’s the thing, if you’re listening up there... I don’t know if this is a prayer, per se, as we’ve not talked in quite some time. Yes, since I said all those awful things to you. That’s on me, and I’m here to apologize. Sorry about that.

Oh... and while I was here, I was also wondering if you might see fit to backing things up about eight-or-so days and putting an ever-so-slight tweak on a certain basketball game. Yes, I know you typically don’t interfere in such things, but it would sure mean a lot to me and a few thousand of my friends. I don’t ask for much, and... what’s that? Well, yes, I did ask for that... and that... in the last 24 hours. Yes, and that. I see what you’re driving at here. But if you think about it, at least I was still talking to you? Yeah, I agree, that’s not really what you’re going for. Again, my bad.

Annnnd still, do you think you might be up for a quick love tap on last Wednesday night’s outcome? I get how much that might hurt long-suffering Timberwolves fans, but I’m being a little selfish here. See, the loss made me feel a little...

GRIEF

SAD... Holy balls, another summer of speculation? Another lottery with Michael Malone having to sit at the lottery proceedings with that worst-chance-in-the-room smile pasted on? I like Coach. I don’t want to see him (or whoever) have to do that again. I’ll be watching, but I may finally break down and buy those snot rags with the lotion already baked in...

(no, I do not own stock in Puffs, nor am I compensated for running their years-old commercial. I simply have a giant nose, and you consider such things when watching tearjerkers like the NBA Draft Lottery has been for fans of the team that has NEVER HAD A NUMBER ONE PICK. Ahem.)

ACCEPTANCE

You know what? I’m okay with this. We were a lot better again last year, and the trio of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris haven’t come close to their individual or collective peaks. We lost a major piece in Paul Millsap for more than half of the season, and the two stints we did get him took some time to get back to a rhythm. While I’d have liked to see the team go further, but I can see how well we did, including against the pro prognosticators prognostications. Say that five times fast. We’ve got things to fix, but our future looks bright if we can make a few more steps in the right direction. Best it’s looked since the 57-win team, with reason to think next season will be even better than this one was. I can accept where we’re at, and be excited for what’s to come.

Since I’m still in Denial, I’m looking forward to how fast I traverse the next four. Hoping to hit Acceptance by September. If it wants to show up next week, I’ll take it.

Keep your eyes on Denver Stiffs this offseason, Nuggets Nation. What news there is of the players, coaches, and organization, we’ll be sharing. We’ll keep the conversation going, for when you’re ready to talk about it. We’ll give you everything we can to get you to Stage Five by the next Nuggets tipoff. You’ll be ready to watch this video again soon, I swear...

Poll

Offseason. Stages. You’re at:

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Denial
    (15 votes)
  • 14%
    Anger
    (65 votes)
  • 4%
    Bargaining
    (22 votes)
  • 12%
    Grief
    (56 votes)
  • 52%
    Acceptance
    (239 votes)
  • 12%
    None of these
    (56 votes)
453 votes total Vote Now