81682_nuggets_celtics_basketball_medium_mediumAs part of the season wrap-up I like to look back at the individual players’ seasons and look forward to what we can expect from each player heading into next season. We’ll tackle each player individually over the coming weeks, but for now I’ll be lumping the upcoming free agents into this first post.





Mcdyess_mediumThe Three-Million Dollar Man: Antonio McDyess. Obviously we all know McDyess didn’t play for the Nuggets this season, but I think most of us remember that as part of his buyout with the Nuggets he was paid $3 million not to play in Denver this season. His buyout comes off the books and while it wont really give the Nuggets a lot of savings with the raises due to Melo, K-Mart, Billups, J.R., Birdman, Nene, Lawson and Afflalo, it will be nice to not have to pay somebody to play for the San Antonio Spurs … especially when the Nuggets could have used his rebounding and jump shooting this season.



Joey Graham aka The Bulldozer

6'7'' 225 lbs
Turns 28 years old June 11
Entering his 6th NBA season

Bulldozer_mediumJoey’s fate hasn’t been much better than his twin-brother Stephen. Both guys played last year on one-year deals for $884K, both guys will be looking for a new team next year, but Joey shouldn’t have any problems finding employment. Graham turned in a career-low in points scored per game when he plays over 60 games in a season with just 4.2 ppg last year. He also turned in a career-low in minutes played per game when he plays over 60 games in a season with just 12 mpg. The perplexing thing about Graham’s lack of playing time is that when he did get opportunities he typically played pretty well.

Coming into the season we heard that the Nuggets once tried to acquire Graham for Linas Kleiza and George Karl couldn't stop saying nice things about Graham's defensive game. Then the season started and Graham was spending his night's digging splinters out of his butt. There just wasn't going to be a lot of playing time being Carmelo Anthony's backup. Graham's opportunities only came with injury or in garbage time. But his performance in the second-quarter of Game 6 against Utah showed us that perhaps Graham could have been more useful. He poured in 18 points in the second quarter by playing aggressive offense and aggressive defense. Graham plays with a sense of toughness that Denver needs and his services could be useful in the future.

Will Graham be back in Denver next year? It's a tough call to say if Graham will be back, but he should be. Graham wont be a highly sought after free agent, but his ability to be a solid role player wont go unnoticed. Winning teams have players coming off their bench like Graham … gritty defense, hard-nosed offense and a sweet blend of athletic ability mixed with great size. Graham is build like a linebacker, can explode to the rim with grace and finish with power. We began to call him the Bulldozer because he had the knack for picking up offensive charges, but a solid bench guy is key to a championship team and I say Graham should stay. It all depends on salary offers and contract length, but I think Denver will be in a position to bid for his services. Only question … will he get an offer that might offer more playing time?


Johan Petro aka The French Resistance  

7' 247 lbs
Turned 24 on January 27
Entering his 6th NBA season

80307_nuggets_timberwolves_basketball_medium_mediumPetro earned $884K last season. Now, look at these names and numbers: DeSagana Diop $6.4 million, Etan Thomas $7.3 million, Nick Collison $6.7 million, Matt Bonner $3.2 million, Jeff Foster $6.6 million, Spencer Hawes $2.9 million and Mark Blount $7.9 million. That is a mix of those centers’ salaries from last season (the free agents to be) and the upcoming season (guys still under contract). You’d have to say that Petro is in the same ballpark as those names and could very well be in the verge of a decent contract offer.

What have the Nuggets been looking for since trading Marcus Camby? A seven-footer. Petro is a seven-footer, he's young and he showed some improvement when he got on the floor last season. Like Graham, Petro only really got opportunities when injuries occured. The Nuggets, for some reason, locked into a three-man big-man rotation with Bird, Nene and K-Mart. We all saw the disasterous results of shortening the bench as injuries piled up as the season progressed and had Petro gotten the time he needed last year we could have seen even more improvement.

Johan started 16 games last season, but only appeared in 36 total regular season games. Petro only averaged 12.1 minutes, but he did post a decent field-goal percentage of 53.5%. Petro's length will always be his selling point and he also possesses rare athleticism for a big guy. Petro did have some issues anticipating passes and catching passes, but I think a lot of that will go away with playing time. Just being on the floor can help a lot of guys out and being more comfortable on the floor will boost Petro's confidence.

Will Petro be back in Denver next season? Plenty of teams will be looking to add a big man in the offseason and after Chris Bosh chooses his new team, there will be lots of dominoes falling and Petro may get a crazy offer that Denver doesn't anticipate. What Denver does have going for them though is an opportunity to log some minutes. I think we all saw that Birdman is more effective as a 15-20 minute player and with K-Mart and Bird's health issues the Denver bench should open up.

Petro's got a pretty nice looking shot and he has never been bashful about getting himself involved offensively. His length is a big advantage on the glass and he has shown the ability to be a difference maker under the hoop. My only real issue is with Petro's basketball I.Q. I don't always feel that Petro really knows his place out on the floor and he sometimes looks lost out there. I don't see Petro dunking the ball in traffic much and he isn't the best at getting himself to the rim as he settles for jump hooks, fades and jump shots a bit too much. If Petro is going to make "the leap" and become a legit role player in this league then it's going to happen in the next season or two and he could last in the league for at least another six or seven seasons at a very high level. Will Denver be able to bring Petro back? It all depends on the fall of the dominoes.


Anthony Carter aka AaaaaaaaaaaaCCCCeeeeeeeeee

6'2'' 195 lbs
Turns 35 on June 16
Entering 12th NBA season

Ac_mediumCarter has been with the Nuggets for four-seasons, but only played in two games with the team in the 2006-07 season … over the last three he has appeared in 70, 78 and 54 games. This past season he not only appeared in the fewest games in his “real” Nuggets tenure, and naturally his numbers with the Nuggets dipped as well. His minutes were down to 15.9, 42% shooting, 3 assists and 3.3 points per game. When the Nuggets drafted Ty Lawson, the writing was on the wall for Carter. Lawson’s immediate impact caught Nuggets fans off guard, but the team obviously saw Lawson’s talent in preseason camp.

Will Carter be back in Denver next season? Carter earned $1.3 million last season and the team must decide if they again want to ante up that kind of money along with paying Lawson $1.5 million or if they want to pursue another option. Aside from Billups and Lawson the Nuggets only other point guard option currently under contract is J.R. Smith. With Billups' age and Lawson's tenacity attacking the basket, it's probably Denver's best bet to carry a third point guard. I'm not sure if the team is planning on carrying a third point again since they know Lawson can handle the backup job, but there is also the question of whether or not J.R. Smith will even be back.

For me, I'd like to see the Nuggets pick up a younger guard whom they can groom to be the eventual backup to Lawson. Somebody with a little size and a sharp shot would be ideal. I don't know if Denver can find a guy late in the draft or if the D-League or a free agent is the answer, but at this juncture there just isn't any upside to having Carter on the roster, but his veteran presence is comforting to the coaching staff so I wouldn't be surprised if he is re-signed … but does Carter want to be a third guard?


Malik Allen aka Tacos

6'10'' 255 lbs
Turns 32 on June 17
Entering his 10th NBA season

Tacos_mediumOne of my proudest moments from the blog this past season was seeing the name Tacos stick for Allen’s nickname. Every time I see it mentioned it brings a stupid smile to my face. The nickname is in good fun since the Nuggets have the 100 point deal with Taco Bell and it is a jerky thing to come up with saying that Allen shouldn’t be in the game unless the Nuggets are up by enough points or down by enough points around the 100-point mark. Being just 32 years-old Allen is a young guy, but for a basketball players he’s the elder statesmen. Watching Allen play you see he’s not the most athletic guy and not the quickest guy around. Allen really doesn’t have a role on a championship calibar team other than being a cheerleader on the end of the bench. I’d much rather see the Nuggets spend the $1.3 million Allen made on a younger guy that has potential to get better and perhaps one day see the floor. I hope the Nuggets take a chance on an athletic young big and they will have the chance to do so as I don’t expect Allen to be back with the team.

Will Allen be back in Denver next season? I don't expect to see Allen in a Nuggets uniform next season. He does have a decent jump shot, but there just enough enough game left in Allen's tank to warrent bringing him back. Sure, I'll miss the nickname, but when that's the thing you miss most about a guy …


Brian Butch and Coby Karl

Butch_mediumButch – 6’11” 240 lbs
Turns 26 on December 22 has yet to record NBA stats

Karl_mediumKarl – 6’5” 215 lbs
Turned 27 on March 6 and will be entering his 3rd NBA season





Both players were signed to deals for the rest of last season and both guys have non-guaranteed deals going into next season. The Nuggets can use the guys for trade chips and if they are not part of any deal then they will have invites to camp.

Should Butch or Karl be on the team next season? Butch might provide a bit of what Malik Allen did for Denver last season. Some shooting touch from the perimeter and a little size on the glass. Karl also has demonstrated that he can shoot the ball from just about anywhere on the floor and Denver could use a sharpshooting guard. Both guys come with question marks and have been trying to find a home in the NBA … could it be Denver? The Nuggets do need some cheap bench guys next year and both Butch and Karl will be options.




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Photos courtesy of AP Photos