The Denver Broncos are stampeding through their offseason. The Colorado Avalanche have turned to an old pal to save them again. The Colorado Rockies are beaming with “I told you so’s”. As the summer begins everything is sunny in Denver. Well, not everything.
Just a short time ago the Denver Nuggets, a team built by the 2013 NBA Executive of the year, were led to 57 wins by the 2013 NBA Coach of the Year. The future was bright and everyone was excited about what the young team could do.
Fast forward to June. The Nuggets collapsed against the upstart Golden State Warriors and failed to advance out of the first round again. Masai Ujiri runs off to the land of hockey to run a team of dinosaurs. And George Karl decides to take his talents to…somewhere else.
57 wins? Pointless.
Executive of the year? Résumé builder.
Coach of the year? Time to cash in.
Welcome to Denver, the place to build your career and then move on to greener pastures.
Melo and Ujiri used us like a first girlfriend. “Hey thanks for everything. You taught me a lot. But I think I can do better. Good luck.”
Karl used us like a rebound from a bad relationship. “Listen you helped pull me out of a hole. But things are looking up now and it’s just time to move on.”
Who can blame them? There were few benefits for staying and there are great rewards for leaving.
Not only does Ujiri cash in for his personal gain, he also cashes in with a desperate team that will do anything to build their brand. (In fact, they are considering dropping the nickname ‘Raptors’. I can’t wait to see what Canada names its only NBA team. I’m hoping for the Toronto Turtles. Why? Because it is absolutely ridiculous. I hope to one day to watch an NBA finals between the Turtles and the Pelicans. Yeah I know I wish for weird things, you don’t need to tell me.) In Toronto he sees unlimited potential. The only Canadian market, the biggest Canadian market, in fact, and a team that is sick of losing. Ujiri will get the money to spend and will have complete freedom. Good for him. Canadian grass truly looks greener.
Karl is now a free agent who is about to cash in. What better time to search for a new team and a new contract than now? He can walk up to any franchise looking for a coach and say, “Hi, I’m the NBA coach of the year. I somehow got a team with Kosta Koufos and Corey Brewer to win 57 games.” The money will literally start falling from the ceiling at that point. Very few people ever have that much leverage in a contract negotiation. The grass might not be greener wherever he ends up but his cash certainly will be.
Where do the Nuggets go from here? They built a team around the idea of not having a superstar with a coach that fully embraced that idea. And now they have lost the person who had that idea and the person who thrived with the idea and still have no superstar.
My single reader out there (hi Jesse) might remember my plan to get the Nuggets above the first round playoff hump. It basically went like this:
- Give Karl one more year
- Retain Ujiri
- Resign Iguodala
- Obtain that one missing player
I thought that was a pretty easy list to follow. Guess not. I think someone in the Nuggets organization saw my list, printed it out, showed it to his boss and then tore the piece of paper to shreds with insane laughter.
It’s like George R. R. Martin is running the Nuggets. He keeps killing off my favorite characters. (Disclaimer: I have neither read nor watched Game of Thrones and I have no idea if that joke is accurate or makes any sense. I only put it in here to entertain my editor (Jesse). I hope he deletes it before the article is published. If not, then I apologize.)
Since the Nuggets decided to ignore the first two parts of my plan I don’t have high hopes for the next two parts. I doubt Iguodala would want to come back to the team under a new coach, a new scheme and a new GM unless we shove loads of money his way. And since the GM and coach of the year were let go because of money, I don’t see that happening.
There are some good coaching options available but it will be difficult to sell them on coming to the Mile High City. Unless we sell them on the idea that we don’t mind being used to jumpstart their careers. That might work. (“Welcome to Denver, the trampoline of the NBA.”)
I would outline the potential GM and coach candidates but I don’t want someone to burn my list again. It hurts.
So I will leave you with a bleak prediction. It has been said that the worst place an NBA team can finish the year is in the middle. Either no playoffs or a first round exit. The reasoning is because the team does not have enough talent to compete for a championship but just enough talent to not bottom out and get a lottery pick. Generally those teams have no superstar and exist around the idea of playing a team game. Sound familiar? The George Karl haters can say what they want about his lack of playoff success but he did everything he could to get this middle of the road team above that hump. Now that he is gone we might be fighting for the 8th seed every season. How exciting.