The new-look Nuggets have yet to win a game in the 2013/14 season and find themselves underneath the Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, and Thunder in the Northwest Division. There’s still a lot of basketball to be played, and the Nuggets are surely looking forward to Ty Lawson‘s health improving and the return of forwards Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari down the road. Here’s some Denver-related notes from around the league:
- Nuggets president Josh Kroenke isn’t satisfied with the mild success his team has enjoyed in recent years, but Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post argues the team needn’t strip down the roster to build a true contender, instead advocating the team pool its assets and trade for a star.
- The Nuggets came close to trading for a high draft pick this past June, Hochman reveals in the same piece.
- The departures of Masai Ujiri, Pete D’Alessandro and others from the Nuggets front office this summer is an affirmation rather than an indictment of Kroenke and the Denver organization, which is already drawing raves for its new hires, as fellow Post scribe Christopher Dempsey observes.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
For some, it may be difficult to fathom that 12 years have already gone by since Jason Kidd landed with the Nets through an offseason trade with the Suns, and that tonight, the franchise is honoring him by retiring his No. 5 uniform (video link via USA Today) in the rafters. Once he arrived in New Jersey in 2001, Kidd appeared more than ready for the revitalization process and leadership role on a team that had missed the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons prior to his arrival:
“(He) told the players, ‘I don’t care what went on here before. We will make the playoffs,’” recalled Rod Thorn, the team president who had made the trade. “Guys were looking at Jason like, ‘What the heck are you talking about?” (ESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor).
The team would go on to win 52 games that season en route to two straight Finals appearances and six consecutive playoff berths. Though Kidd would ultimately fall short of leading the Nets to an NBA title as a player, he now takes on the opportunity of coaching a team with championship aspirations. How far he’ll lead Brooklyn this year remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Kidd could be in the midst of his most special chapter with the Nets’ franchise. Here are some of tonight’s miscellaneous news and notes:
- Newsday’s Roderick Boone found that Heat superstar LeBron James wouldn’t comment on whether or not the Nets could contend for a title along with the Heat. Dwyane Wade, on the other hand, had this to say: “(Brooklyn) they did what they said they were going to do. They want to compete for a championship” (Twitter links).
- Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com reports that Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum is now near his usual playing weight of 285 lbs and is inching closer to a return to the court.
- Earlier tonight, Cavs coach Mike Brown revealed that first overall pick Anthony Bennett has been dealing with asthma and sleep apnea (ESPN via the Associated Press). Though Brown says that the breathing issues are noticeable, it doesn’t appear that it’ll affect the way he tries to use Bennett in his rotation this season: “It’s been tiring to watch him because every time I watch him he’s (gasping)…It makes me tired, so I try not to look at him. I tell him, `If you need a sub, just tell me. Otherwise I’m not going to look at you.”
- Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum calls Joel Freeland his “training camp MVP,” while head coach Terry Stotts admits that the 6’11 center has had a good training camp thus far. Joe Freeman of the Oregonian writes that Freeman’s quiet transition into a Nick Collison-type of player could produce an opportunity to find a spot in Stotts’ rotation.
- Nuggets coach Brian Shaw likes what he sees in Wilson Chandler, and team GM Tim Connelly was quick to name him as the most likely to have a breakout year: “He got here about two months ago. He’s in great shape. He’s got the right mindset. Playing for a guy like coach Shaw could really allow him to take that next step” (Aaron J. Lopez of Nuggets.com).
It's been a relatively quiet post-draft night around the NBA, but such inactivity won't last long. Teams can negotiate with free agents from other clubs starting Monday, and we'll likely find out the destinations for most of the top available talent in the week ahead. Here's what we know now:
- Spurs assistant Brett Brown is a candidate for both of the league's remaining head coaching vacancies, but while the Sixers have strong interest in hiring him, Brown is "extremely" interested in the Celtics job, a source tells Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe.
- Before Larry Bird returned this week as Pacers president of basketball ops, the team appeared to favor keeping Danny Granger rather than trading him this summer. Bird is on board with that plan, notes Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star.
- The Nets tried to trade MarShon Brooks during the draft for a second-round pick, but when they found no one willing to do such a deal, they substituted him for Reggie Evans in the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce blockbuster, reports Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.
- The Cavaliers are looking for a center, small forward and backup point guard, and they're willing to swing a trade to fill those needs, tweets Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio.
- The Rockets timed renovations to their home arena to coincide with free agency, so potential players could see the franchise's upgrades in action, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle details.
- Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News speculates on potential trade targets for the Pistons, who've had Wilson Chandler of the Nuggets "on their radar" for a while, Goodwill writes.
- Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside identifies five players left undrafted Thursday whose chances of making the NBA could benefit from a D-League stint.
- Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer figures the kind of deal Brandon Jennings gets in restricted free agency this year could set the bar for Kemba Walker, whose rookie-scale contract with the Bobcats is up in 2015 (Twitter link).
Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio has just published a piece rounding up a few of the latest trade rumblings from around the NBA, so let's dive in and tackle the highlights….
- Josh Smith is viewed by Amico's sources as a near-lock to be moved, though there's no consensus on where he'll be headed. The Nets, Suns, and Mavericks are mentioned as potential destinations, with the Spurs in the mix as well.
- One source isn't so sure the Hawks will move Smith by next Thursday: "They won’t just give the guy away. (Smith) is practically an All-Star. You can deal with the contract situation later."
- The Nets haven't completely given up on the idea of making a play for Dwight Howard, but they'd likely need to get a third team involved. I'd consider that one a real long shot.
- While the Nuggets are fairly content with their roster at the moment, they could explore a smaller move involving someone like Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer, or Anthony Randolph. Denver has some interest in J.J. Redick, but Amico says conversations have "all but disappeared after he indicated he wants to stay with the Magic."
- The Bulls and 76ers have started to get more active in trade talks within the last week.
- The Raptors have engaged the Sixers in trade talks involving Andrea Bargnani, though it's not clear what would be going Toronto's way in a hypothetical deal — Spencer Hawes is one possibility.
- After losing twice to the Heat this season, the Thunder are "strongly considering" making a move to bolster their lineup, according to Amico.
Although Chad Ford's weekly chat at ESPN.com featured plenty of draft questions once again this week, Ford also addressed a number of trade questions and rumors. Many of Ford's answers focused more on his own opinions or speculation, but here are a few of the highlights from ESPN's NBA draft guru:
- Ford is hearing that the Bucks are "very active" and that Samuel Dalembert isn't the only player they're actively discussing. Monta Ellis, Beno Udrih, and Ersan Ilyasova could all be had as well, according to Ford.
- The Hawks would like to move Josh Smith, but the market for him isn't currently very strong and the team is still holding on to hope that Smith could help lure Dwight Howard to Atlanta this summer, says Ford.
- Zach Randolph "looks like a marked man," according to Ford, though it's not clear whether he thinks the Grizzlies will trade Randolph in the next two weeks or further down the road.
- Ford keeps hearing the Nuggets mentioned in trade scenarios, with Danilo Gallinari's and Wilson Chandler's names coming up most frequently.
The Pacers and Trail Blazers head into today having each won 11 of their last 14 contests, but both teams will be in for tough matchups at home tonight, as the Knicks arrive in Indiana and the Heat play in Portland. As we look forward to what should be a fun TNT doubleheader, let's check in on a few afternoon links from around the NBA:
- While the Knicks have inquired on Kenyon Martin, they won't make a decision on the free agent big man one way or another until they determine Rasheed Wallace's timetable, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
- One NBA team executive predicts to Ian Thomsen of SI.com that if DeMarcus Cousins becomes available, there won't be as much interest as there might have been in the past. "We do all of this research and background work on players now before we draft them," said the exec. "I think half of the consideration when we look at players now is trying to understand who these guys are as people. I really do think that most teams are going to say they don't want any part of him."
- Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News thinks that the Lakers should trade Dwight Howard for Dirk Nowitzki. However, even if the Lakers were interested in such a move, which seems extremely unlikely, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wouldn't be, as he tells David Baumann of Sports Talk Florida: "No knock on Dwight, I just won't trade Dirk" (Twitter link).
- Although he signed a three-year deal overseas this past offseason, Rudy Fernandez isn't ruling out an eventual return to the NBA, writes CNN.com's Paul Gittings.
- The Cavaliers should attempt to make a play for Rudy Gay, suggests Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio.
- Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post wonders if Wilson Chandler's return to the Nuggets lineup could lead to a trade, either of Chandler or another player.
With this season's deadline still three months away, the trade market likely won't be too active for at least a few more weeks. However, as Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld writes, things could start to pick up on December 15th, when most players who signed over the summer are eligible to be dealt. Kyler looks at a few specific trade candidates in his latest piece, so let's round up the highlights….
- Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, and Al Jefferson are a few players in the final year of their contracts whose respective teams aren't planning to deal. However, the Hawks and Jazz could reconsider their stances as the deadline approaches, if there's an increasing concern that those players will leave in free agency.
- While there's no urgency in Toronto to move Jose Calderon, the Raptors are expected to explore deals. Kyler suggests that small forwards like Omri Casspi and Wilson Chandler are worth keeping an eye on as potential Raptors targets, adding that Chandler isn't in the Nuggets' long-term plan.
- The Rockets likely aren't done dealing, with players like Daequan Cook, Toney Douglas, and Marcus Morris among the team's possible trade candidates.
- DeJuan Blair continues to be available, but the Spurs are still seeking a first-round pick, and it's unclear if any team would pay that price for a player that could sign elsewhere at season's end.
- Anderson Varejao isn't likely to be moved, but if the Cavaliers were to consider a deal, it would have to include Luke Walton and his $6.09MM salary.
- Similarly, if the Kings explored a Tyreke Evans trade, Sacramento would want to include either John Salmons or Francisco Garcia.
- The Timberwolves would be open to moving Derrick Williams if they could land a good veteran player for him.
- Kyler also names Hedo Turkoglu, Tayshaun Prince, Tyrus Thomas, and Wesley Johnson as trade candidates, though all those players could be tough to move due to their salaries.
Let's round up a few Wednesday odds and ends from around the Association….
Earlier today, we heard from ESPN.com's Chris Broussard that the Nuggets and Warriors had discussed the possibility of a trade that would send the No. 7 pick to Denver and Wilson Chandler to Golden State. Broussard is back with more Warriors info this afternoon, tweeting that the team is eyeing other small forwards besides Chandler, including Rudy Gay, Andre Iguodala, and Marvin Williams. No deals are imminent, according to Broussard, but the Warriors are a good bet to be active either today or tomorrow. Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group has a few more Warriors items, so let's check those out:
- The Warriors do like Chandler, but may not believe he's worth the seventh overall pick, says Thompson. Golden State would want Denver to take on a bad contract like Richard Jefferson's or Andris Biedrins' in order for the deal to work.
- If Andre Drummond is available when the Warriors pick at No. 7, expect Golden State to call up the Rockets to try to work out a deal. The Warriors don't have nearly the same interest in Drummond as Houston does, though some members of Golden State's front office would be willing to roll the dice on the UConn big man.
- The Warriors have also spoken to Milwaukee about trading down to No. 12. A recent report suggested a swap of Luc Mbah a Moute and the 12th pick for the 7th pick, but Thompson thinks the Warriors are more likely to try to reacquire Ekpe Udoh. [Update: Thompson corrects himself in a tweet, noting that the Warriors are ineligible to reacquire Udoh this season.]
- Thompson tweets that rival teams keep inquiring about the availability of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, but that GM Bob Myers isn't interested in trading either player. Thompson is the most unmovable Warriors at the moment, according to the Bay Area News Group scribe.
- Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News adds, via Twitter, that the Warriors appear to be "really trying" to move Dorell Wright.
The Nuggets' core of young players is drawing plenty of trade interest this week, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN.com (via Twitter). According to Broussard, one of several potential deals being discussed involves sending Wilson Chandler to the Warriors in exchange for the seventh overall pick.
Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, and Kosta Koufos are among the Nuggets under contract for next year and beyond at reasonable salaries. Ty Lawson is also entering the final year of his rookie contract and will be eligible for an extension this summer, while JaVale McGee is set to become a restricted free agent.
As Zach Lowe of SI.com tweets, Denver has so many productive players on relatively affordable contracts that the Nuggets can't help but be active in trade talks. Moving one of their larger contracts for a top prospect on a rookie contract would give the Nuggets more flexibility to re-sign McGee and extend Lawson. However, as John Hollinger of ESPN.com points out (via Twitter), some salary would need to come back to Denver in the rumored deal with the Warriors — Dorell Wright would be the most likely candidate.