San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets

Report: Wizards interested in Nuggets’ Andre Miller, but a trade is difficult


It’s always about the money. As we near the trade deadline remember that: It is always about the money.

The Washington Wizards could argue they are the third best team in the East. It’s a dubious honor this season and the title seems to change hands weekly between the Wizards, Raptors and Nets, but all three of those teams have legitimate dreams of making the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs (and the Hawks could surprise us all). When healthy, with the John Wall/Bradley Beal backcourt and Nene up front, the Wizards pose some legitimate challenges to other teams.

But they could use depth at the point guard spot, as the seemingly smart pickup of Eric Maynor has not worked out (he’s shooting 29.2 percent on the season, has a PER of 6.1 and is playing less than 10 minutes a game).

The Denver Nuggets have the exiled Andre Miller as an option… so yes, there is something to that, reports Zach Lowe at Grantland. But again, the money is in the way.

The Wizards, meanwhile, may have to settle for a smaller deal — if they can manage any at all. They’d surely love to upgrade the backup point guard slot after the Eric Maynor flop, and given the front-office connections between Denver and Washington,4 a deal involving the exiled Professor Andre Miller, PhD, would seem to make sense. But the Wizards are just $1 million under the tax line, meaning they’d have to send out significant salary to offer Miller tenure.

The Wizards are not a team seen around the league as a big spender (to put it kindly) and they are not likely to venture into the tax territory, certainly not this season. As Mike Prada of SBN reminds us, in addition to the tax threat the Wizards are paying Andray Blatche even though they amnestied him (players still get paid their salary, it just comes off the official books). That’s extra money out the door for a franchise not known for spending. Which means Washington would want to make a deal where it sends out more money than it takes in, keeps its picks and upgrades its backup point guard spot. Good luck with that.

We’re going to see these kinds of issues a lot now. The value of the expiring contract has gone way down in the NBA (in part because contracts are shorter under the new CBA). Also, teams are not looking to move draft picks this year or next because of the quality of players coming in.

There will still be deadline deals, it’s hard to imagine Brandon Bass still being in Boston or Arron Afflalo still being in Orlando come Feb. 21. But the blockbusters may be missing and the volume of moves may be down. It may be this summer before we see a ton of deals.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Can Thunder win 60 games?

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Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka are healthy — just how good will the Thunder be?

The bold prediction in this PBT Extra preview with Jenna Corrado is that the Thunder will win 60 games, something they have not yet done. I wouldn’t bet on them hitting that number — with a new coach, and them making sure Durant and Westbrook get rest coming off injuries, plus the fact they’re in the deep West, that number may be high.

I think they have a better chance to come out of the West than win 60 games. I think they have a good shot to come out of the West.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”