Kenyon Martin is about to join J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler as key Denver Nuggets free agents that have decided to play a season in China rather than see how the lockout plays out.
And that leaves the Nuggets screwed for next season.
Martin’s agent Andy Miller confirmed to Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post the planned signing with Xingiang Guanghui in the Chinese Basketball Association. That is the team that also has former NBA player Quincy Douby.
“It’s a great opportunity for him to stay in shape and stay fresh,” said Andy Miller, Martin’s agent. “And it also gives him an opportunity to expand his name globally.”
The Chinese Basketball Association has a rule in place that players cannot have opt-out clauses in their contracts, forcing teams to only target players who were to be free agents. The Nuggets have a lot of those.
This means three key rotation players for the Nuggets are gone for the entire next season (there is the possibility of a handshake deal to cut these guys loose when the lockout ends, but don’t bet on it). It’s not that any of these guys individually is irreplaceable, but as a group they are. The Nuggets looked good at the end of last season because they played very team-oriented ball, with a number of quality players willing to defend and make the extra pass. Now that team is breaking up for at least a season.
Martin, age 34, started the 48 games he was healthy last season and was a key part of the Nuggets play bringing a physical inside presence, even though he averaged just 8.6 points per game. J.R. Smith was a sixth man of the year candidate for the Nuggets providing 12.3 points per game, and Wilson Chandler saw significant minutes and started 19 games for the team after coming over from the Knicks in the Carmelo Anthony trade.
All of them will play next season in China.
Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari has signed to play in Italy and Ty Lawson will be in Lithuania, but both of them have opt-out contracts to return to the NBA when the league ends.
Joel Embiid‘s minute limit of below 20 bummed out everyone (especially Embiid).
But good news could be on the way.
Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:
The 76ers look like a borderline playoff team, Embiid’s health the biggest variable. There’s a direct correlation between his ability to stay on the court and Philadelphia’s postseason chances.
Plus, he’s just so darn fun to watch. The more he plays, the bigger victory it is for every viewer not rooting for the 76ers’ opponent that night.
John Henson was on the trade block. Greg Monroe seems permanently affixed there.
Another player the Bucks apparently want to deal? Rashad Vaughn, who was the No. 17 pick in 2015.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Milwaukee has been working to trade several players to clear salary-cap space, including guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson, league sources said. The Bucks have been willing to attach a second-round pick in offers for Vaughn, league sources said.
It’s unclear whether the Bucks are still as motivated to move Vaughn. They slid under the luxury-tax line by stretching Spencer Hawes. One-time target Richard Jefferson already signed with the Nuggets. A roster vacancy and cap savings might not matter as much anymore to Milwaukee.
But Vaughn has struggled in two NBA seasons. The Bucks might be better off trying to develop someone else, even a D-League player, over the 21-year-old Vaugh.
Vaughn is due $1,889,040 this season. He faces a $2,901,565 team option for next season, which his team must decide on by Oct. 31. It seems unlikely that will be exercised.
This is what happens when you draft players for the wrong reason.
Richard Jefferson announced his retirement after the Cavaliers won the 2016 championship, changed his mind, re-signed with Cleveland then played another season there. He played big playoff minutes for the Cavs both years.
But they traded him to the Hawks (who waived him, allowing him to sign with the Nuggets) in a rather abrupt end to his Cleveland tenure.
His exit could have been far more strained.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
Then he was nearly traded the summer after the championship because he revealed what the Cavs’ rings looked like on his Snapchat account before the team was ready to release them to the public. Then-GM David Griffin was so ticked that he was ready to ship him out of town, sources told ESPN, before eventually calming down and accepting Jefferson’s apology.
Talk about some petty nonsense. And Griffin was known for soothing tension!
Thankfully for Jefferson – at least if he wanted to stay in Cleveland – he revealed the ring design in September. As a newly signed player, he couldn’t be traded until Dec. 15. That gave Griffin time to cool down.
Carmelo Anthony wanted to be traded to the Houston Rockets. Badly. (Whether that was good for Houston is a different discussion.) His time in New York was over by mutual consent, but now was time to move on, however, thanks to a no-trade clause Phil Jackson gave him, Anthony had leverage. And he wanted to be a Rocket with James Harden and Chris Paul.
It looked at one point like a deal would get done between New York and Houston, then it fell apart. So what happened?
Phil Jackson was booted, that’s what happened, Anthony told Marc Stein the New York Times.
The delay to find a workable trade, in Anthony’s view, stemmed from the fact that Jackson was willing “to trade me for a bag of chips,” while Scott Perry, who became the Knicks’ new general manager after Jackson’s departure, took a harder line in trade talks with Houston and Cleveland that eventually fizzled.
“They went from asking for peanuts to asking for steak,” Anthony said with a laugh.
‘Melo can laugh, he landed in a good spot with Oklahoma City. He’s on a potential contender.
As for his feelings on Jackson and leaving the organization? Still some hard feelings there.
“There was no support from the organization,” he said. “When you feel like you’re on your own and then on top of that you feel like you’re being pushed out …”