The fun part about NBA free agency is the cat-and-mouse game that teams must play with players. Don’t tip your hand too much as leverage is the name of the game. Well, Nuggets head coach George Karl can’t help but say good things about Arron Afflalo. The young shooting guard’s importance to the Nuggets is becoming one of the worst kept secrets in the NBA.

If you haven’t had a chance to see Karl get interrogated by the local media at the Pepsi Center yet, check it out (right here). Karl touches on not being allowed to travel to see his guys play overseas, but does touch on Kosta Koufos, Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, and Timofey Mozgov. He goes on to talk about how the wacky 66 game season could play out and the four teams that are a lock to make the playoffs out West. Karl thinks his team will take the role of the underdog again and speaks about teams over stars.

But the parts that I really liked were his words about Afflalo. It's no secret that the Coach likes Afflalo's game on the court and enjoys his work ethic as well. Afflalo has seemed like a player that coaches would kill to have on their team. I pulled these quotes from the press conference:

Karl: "I think Arron has become our most intangible glue guy on our team. When we evaluate why we lost in the playoffs, free throw shooting was No. 1 and not having Arron Afflalo was probably No. 2."

"If you look at last year … I couldn't take Arron off the court. Even when we had Carmelo and Chauncey, Arron was this foundation of consistency at the basics of the game. As the season went on I was amazed. I felt naked not having him on the court. Then when we changed the team, there was probably never a growth of unity because it happened so fast and we had a lot of wins. Arron was kind of that glue that made everything work and fit."

I couldn't agree with Karl more here. It pains me to recall all those painful clangs from the charity stripe, but not having Afflalo was key in that series. Nuggets fans could see how well Afflalo was playing and how important his offense and defense were to the team. Had Denver not been missing their shooting guard, who knows how that series would have turned out. But living in the past isn't what this lesson is about, but rather that moving forward with Afflalo makes the Nuggets a much better team.

The scary part about Karl coming out and saying such great things about Afflalo? If another team sees how important Arron is to Denver's plans and tosses a big fat deal at him.

A bit of good news … if you go scan Blog a Bull, SB Nation’s fantastic Chicago Bulls site, there is literally NO TALK of Afflalo on there right now. It’s all Caron Butler and Jason Richardson. The Bulls can’t really afford to pass up unrestricted free agents and tie up money for three days in the form of an offer to restricted free agent Afflalo.

I feel pretty good that the Nuggets will be able to bring Afflalo back into the fold and it's nice to know that our Coach is excited about having him back on the team as well.

Manimal and Hamilton sightings …

For those of you who don't know, Nuggets rookie Kenneth Faried likes to be called "Manimal" and he is in Denver and running full court games at Pepsi Center! The other rookie, Jordan Hamilton, sounds like he has been in Denver since Friday Dec. 2nd and warned Faried about the high altitude workout.

Faried was on Twitter asking for places to eat in Denver and complaining about the cold weather as well. Isn't this kid from New Jersey? Toughen up young man!

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