Denver Nuggets – The Missing Piece
With the NBA season just weeks away and Free Agency upon us, the Denver Nuggets displayed a unique strategy. They did nothing. While names like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Kemba Walker all switched teams, the Nuggets invested in bringing back everyone, adding no one.
Paul Millsap’s third-year, $30 million team option was picked up, Jamal Murray inked a 5-year/$170 million extension, and no player of significant value signed elsewhere.
Last year was terrific, but Denver did lose to a Portland team that was basically just Damion Lillard, were fortunate to avoid the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors, and teams like the Jazz, Lakers, and others have improved their rosters. Did the Nuggets do enough by doing nothing?
Denver’s young core of Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, and Murray should be slightly improved with another year of maturity, and the same goes for Malik Beasley and Monte Morris. But a lot seems to be riding on last year’s success, and the potential of the 2018 lottery pick, Michael Porter Jr.
I don’t mind the strategy. Play ten guys and don’t mess with team chemistry. But as long as you have a few spots on the bench, there could be a free agent worth picking up as the missing piece to our playoff puzzle. Here are five free agent players that I think we could use.
- Danny Green – SF/SG. Green would be the perfect fit for the Nuggets. As an elite defender at 6’6, Green could match up against some of the better guards in the West like LeBron, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and others while providing the knockdown three-point shooter that the team lacks. Green was on the NBA Champion Toronto Raptors last season, was All-Defensive team 2016-17, shot 45.5% from 3pt-range last year, and has a second ring from his days in San Antonio. The only issue is he’s 32, made $10 million last year, and is looking for a long-term deal.
- Tyson Chandler – C/PF. The Nuggets lack experience. Chandler has played 18 years in the league including an NBA Championship with the Mavericks. The Nuggets lack a defensive-minded rim protector. Chandler was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, is a 3-time All-Defensive Team honorary, and has averaged 1.2 blocks a game during his career. The Nuggets don’t have playing time or much money left to spend. Chandler is 36 years old and averaged only fifteen minutes a game last year for the Lakers. Offer a couple million and see if it works.
- Markieff Morris – SF/PF. Currently, who is the toughest player on the Denver Nuggets? Mason Plumlee? Markieff would bring an edge to the Nuggets that they don’t have. Every team needs an enforcer to take a hard foul, protect our stars, and make sure we’re not pushed around. Just 29 years-old, Markieff can play physical down low, shoot the three, and step in perfectly at either forward position. Markieff signed with Detroit? Then make that Marcus Morris, his identical twin brother. It might be a little more expensive to sign Marcus, but I’m pretty sure he’s only 29 as well.
- Thabo Sefolosha – SG/SF. Sefolosha was a 2009-10 All-Defensive Team player as his 6’7 frame was perfect for shutting down opponents. The problem is that he’s old (35), injured most of last year, and didn’t do much—averaging 12 minutes a game. That’s okay. Denver doesn’t need 12 minutes a game, they need 12 seconds. Dust off the 13-year-vet at playoff time when the Nuggets are up by one, James Harden has the ball, and there are 12 seconds left in the game. Unless you are comfortable with Torey Craig stopping Harden, or Steph Curry, or LeBron.
- Pau Gasol – PF. How about a little experience at the end of the bench? Gasol will be 39 years- old in a couple of days, but he has played 18 years in the NBA. That includes six All-Star games, four All-NBA selections, four Olympics, 136 playoff games, and two NBA Championships. Gasol is a little old and coming off injury, but he wants to play! I’m sure he’s good for a few quality minutes when the playoffs come around. Think the Nuggets can’t afford him? Well, Gasol has made over $200 million in his NBA career, but last year he played for $527,000.
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