Are you for or against the signing of Isaiah Thomas?
Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash): I’m generally fine with it. The backup point guard market was thiiiiin and the Nuggets had no scoring punch off the bench with Will Barton looking like the new starting small forward. Someone’s got to occupy the 30 or so minutes that have been vacated by Wilson Chandler’s departure and someone’s got to be able to create on offense when Nikola Jokic is on the bench. If the choices for that player are either Thomas, Monte Morris, Torrey Craig or Malik Beasley, well, Thomas seems to be the clear favorite there.
Ryan Blackburn (@NBABlackburn): I am for it personally. At times last season, Barton was the only player standing in the way of the bench collapsing. Denver had an option at backup point guard in Morris. Now they have two in Morris and Thomas. They could even play both of them off the bench at the same time to make sure the ball goes in the basket when Jokic sits. The defense doesn’t improve this way, but looking around at other free agents, there aren’t many players that can be trusted in high pressure situations. Thomas has shown the ability before. He was “King in the Fourth” just over 12 months ago. If he can recapture that magic in Denver, the Nuggets just got a steal.
Brendan Vogt (@Bvogt422): I was all in on Morris over retaining an aging veteran like Devin Harris, but this is a much more interesting alternative. Thomas is well over the hill but should still be perfectly capable of filling it up off the bench—something Denver will need with Barton now in the starting lineup. IT has a large personality and this signing does nothing to improve what will be a ghastly defense at best, but it’s on the vet’s minimum. What’s the risk here? I’m with it.
Evan Fiala (@eefiala): It’s funny how quick I am to buy in to IT. It’s such a low-risk, high-reward move that as long as Thomas accepts his role on the team I just can’t see it really going awry.
Mike Olson (@visiblemike): I wish I could offer a dissenting opinion, but at the price they got him at, it’s hard to argue this could be any lower-risk. Could this go wrong in a couple different ways? Sure. But the Nuggets did this in a way that, should it go south, they can easily move on without breaking a sweat. Conversely, if this pays off at the veteran minimum to simply keep you at parity with the other team while Jokic is off the floor, you just changed the nature of your cheat code.
Jeremy Poley (@jeremypoley): Zing zang! Getting him at the minuscule price that we did is absurd. There is almost no risk here. Let’s forget about the 30 point-per-game IT of the Celtics. Even if we get the Laker’s version of IT that averaged 17 points and 5 and a half assists during March, he has a role on our roster. And he brings a tenacity that could help light a fire under an ultra-talented, but sometimes lethargic, roster.
When Will Monte Morris get his shot at a rotation spot now?
Mikash: Worst case scenario, the Nuggets play the long game with Morris. They didn’t just sign him to a two year two way deal for nothing. Monte can to go back to Rio Grande Valley or Sioux Falls or wherever and be ready for the call any time a guard gets hurt or if the IT experiment fails. Denver’s only bringing Thomas on for one year so next season when Morris is an RFA he can follow a similar path as Torrey Craig.
Blackburn: I think there’s still a shot for him to play. Denver will need two players to man the backcourt when the bench comes in, and if Morris looks better than Beasley, Denver may play him and Thomas at the same time. That being said, Morris is a long term play. Thomas is a low-risk short term play. If he doesn’t work out, Denver cuts Thomas, guarantees Morris’ contract for the rest of the year, and they likely go with that. If not, Morris likely plays frequently in the event of an injury but not much otherwise. That’s okay. He’s still in just his second season.
Vogt: Denver has created a roster spot via the Brooklyn trade but it remains unclear if that’s reserved for Monte. Even if Monte is left on his two-way deal, he could still play this season. Ideally Thomas stays healthy and provides that much needed pop off the bench. But what if he doesn’t? Morris will be called upon. Regardless of how it shakes out this season, the team seems to like him and it’s reasonable to assume he is still in their long term plans as a backup point guard.
Fiala: Yeah, I think so. He certainly deserves a spot after grinding it out in the G-League last year and impressing literally everyone in Summer League. I’m not sure of who else is out there that could take it.
Olson: Does it bore everyone when we all agree? Probably so. Morris could and SHOULD absolutely see more court time this year with the big-league club, and I fully expect him to push Thomas to earn that backup spot. The Nuggets should hope they push each other. I’d love to keep them both in the mix with the open spot. We needed more depth in the guard slots, anyway. Why not bring everything you can to bear?
Poley: IT’s 4 month timetable for recovery would have him being at full strength very soon. If that holds up, he should be firmly implanted as the main guard off the bench by game 1. Unfortunately for Monte, unless the floor completely falls out from under IT or Beasley, or a major injury to a guard, I don’t think he gets his first full NBA contract until next year.
What will you remember the most about Kenneth Faried?
Mikash: The thing that will last for me with Faried is the energy he gave the fans right after the Carmelo Anthony deal. Faried along with Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari was supposed to be the next era. Obviously that core didn’t work out but Faried was the one who brought just a tiny bit of exposure on the national level for the Nuggets. He played for Team USA, he competed in the dunk contest. In the end his stardom fizzled out in Denver but not long ago he was a key piece to the Nuggets future.
Blackburn: I will remember the Manimal growl, after Faried made big energy play after big energy play. From hustling down rebounds, to some high-flying blocks, to soaring through the air on the receiving end of a Jokic alley-oop, Faried was caught in a bad situation right when Denver needed a power forward that could space the floor the the three-point line and defend. Still, Faried single-handedly won Denver games and made an unexciting era of basketball fun for Nuggets fans. Denver rallied behind Faried as one of the most popular players on the team. He was flawed, but it didn’t matter. He gave it everything he had for a long time.
Vogt: The infectious energy. For all the ways that Faried’s game has aged poorly, he was always good to spark 9-2 or 10-0 run out of nowhere. He still is, I’m sure. I’ll remember the high flying dunks and the blur that was Faried streaking up and down the court as he flipped the momentum of a quarter, or entire game, on its head. Faried played an integral role in the shaping of the post-Melo Nuggets and I expect the one-time fan favorite to be remembered fondly.
Fiala: On the court: his hustle, crazy dunks and insane blocks. Off the court: his Instagram fashion shows before each game. Now that he’s no longer on the team, I can hit that “unfollow” button.
Olson: I’m with Brendan. Literally infectious energy, because any teammate watching him step on the gas pedal was suddenly hustling at least 10% harder than before Faried hit the floor, just to avoid being embarrassed by Faried’s motor. We occasionally overwhelmed the other team when he came onto the floor because the whole team would pick it up with him out there. I also loved how he embraced the Manimal moniker. That could have gone so poorly so quickly, and his energy and personality made it connect him to the Denver fan base during a time that most of their other players didn’t.
Poley: Sure, I remember how many rebounds he ate up when he first showed up in Denver. It was incredibly impressive for a guy from some made-up college called Morehead State. But in all honesty, Faried and Jokic having every NBA backcourt on their backs by the end of ‘15-’16 was one of the most fun times I’ve had watching basketball. They were a sieve on defense. So, what? Jokic’s crazy passes and Faried’s high-flying escapades were the reward for true Nuggets fans that had endured through some hard years.
Who should get the final roster spot?
Mikash: I would give it to Morris. Yes, the Nuggets have him on the second year of a two-way contract so they can just send him back to the G-League, but there’s not much reason to sign someone else at this point. Denver’s rotation is locked in and their roster is finally fairly balanced. Having a third emergency point guard on the roster who also is a guy you are developing for the future seems like a perfect fit for the 15th spot.
Blackburn: I have no idea. The options aren’t great out there right now in the free agent market. There are primarily offensive players left rather than defensive players, something Denver needs desperately. I guess I would give it to Morris at this point though. He has earned the opportunity to stay with the big club. If an injury occurs, my feeling is that he will be the first player to experience a bump in minutes. Why not make it easier to bring him up if no perfect option exists in free agency?
Vogt: An organization that has been criticized for its passivity has shocked their fans with a risky and flashy summer. It’s getting really hard to predict what Denver has up its sleeve and perhaps another move is coming, but I’d like to see the spot go to Monte. It can’t hurt to have a third guard on the roster and Morris has done everything that’s been asked of him since his arrival in Denver. He’s earned it.
Fiala: Morris. 15th roster spots are made for guys like him.
Olson: LeBron? But that ship seems to have sailed, so I’d also cast my vote for Morris. He’s going to be a solid-or-better contributor for someone in the league soon, and we desperately need the depth in the backcourt. The Nuggets have certainly already made riskier bets in this offseason than Monte.
Poley: I’m against signing Dwayne Wade. He hasn’t shot above 45% in 3 years, and it’s 5 years since he’s been the ace that everyone knew him as. All of his stats are down, and it’s not just his athleticism that has slipped. It’s one thing to take chances with the big personality we’re getting from IT, it’s another to team him up with Wade. If things go south, the two of them would form an awfully large locker room anchor. We need to look to the future - and that means developing the talent we have on the roster now. Leave it open for now.