The Nuggets had found some rhythm under new head coach Melvin Hunt, who took over after the firing of Brian Shaw and had led the team to six wins in his first eight games on the job.
Denver killed that momentum on Monday, however, resting Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari — all of whom were completely healthy, and didn’t choose to sit out.
It’s a clear move to tank by the front office, in order to secure the highest draft lottery odds possible by losing games at the end of a lost season. Mathematically, it makes sense — but some of the other reasons for the strategy that were thrown out by Hunt do not.
From Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post (emphasis mine):
Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried were held out with their health in mind, not for any other reason, Hunt said.
“It’s part of the game,” he said. “It’s part of the league. We’re no different. We have to have great vision. We have to be nearsighted and farsighted, and this is just part of that vision.”
Asked if he had ever been part of a non-playoff team that suddenly employed a rest rotation as the Nuggets have done, Hunt said: “Yeah, but we’re in a very unique situation here, having come off what we did last year with so many injuries. We had players with ACL injuries; our owner’s dog had an ACL injury. We had a little bit of everything going on. We have to be very, very careful. We have to be really wise, given the situation that we are in.”
Hunt is obviously toeing the company line here, and the comment about the dog was surely meant to be a lighthearted way of explaining just how hard the injury bug bit the team last season.
But honestly, it’s completely ridiculous.
We all know what’s going on here, and again, the league’s draft lottery system is set up to incentivize losing, at least to a certain extent, so the front office is trying to do what it believes is right.
But the players aren’t happy about it, and an interim head coach who’s trying to show he’s the right man for the job can’t be happy about it, either — despite his silly, yet earnest public defense of the organization’s choice.