Tag: Denver Nuggets

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Team USA announces 34 expected minicampers: DeAndre Jordan and Michael Carter-Williams in, Derrick Rose out


Team USA started with a 28-player pool for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

That was narrowed for the World Cup with two players added, bringing the total to 30.

A few more players were added during World Cup tryouts, increasing the pool to 33.

A report last month listed seven newcomers, giving the Americans 40 known candidates for Rio.

Today, Team USA announced 34 players – including two previously unknowns – were expected to attend next week’s minicamp, which USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo called mandatory for Olympic consideration:

  • Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
  • LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs)
  • Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors)
  • Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
  • Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls)
  • Michael Carter-Williams (Milwaukee Bucks)
  • Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies)
  • DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
  • Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
  • Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
  • DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors)
  • Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)
  • Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
  • Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)
  • Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings)
  • Paul George (Indiana Pacers)
  • Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
  • Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)
  • James Harden (Houston Rockets)
  • Tobias Harris (Orlando Magic)
  • Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz)
  • Dwight Howard (Houston Rockets)
  • Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  • LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  • DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers)
  • Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
  • Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  • Victor Oladipo (Orlando Magic)
  • Chandler Parsons (Dallas Mavericks)
  • Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)
  • Mason Plumlee (Portland Trail Blazers)
  • Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
  • John Wall (Washington Wizards)
  • Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)

At this point, there aren’t many surprise inclusions. The two big ones: Jordan and Carter-Williams, neither of whom had previously been mentioned for the player pool. Jordan has emerged as one of the NBA’s best centers, and he could definitely make the Olympic roster. The road will be much more difficult for Carter-Williams, who has a strong crop of point guards in front of him.

Carter-Williams’ additions probably has something to do with the players previously in the pool who aren’t expected to attend the minicamp:

  • Tyson Chandler (Phoenix Suns)
  • Andre Iguodala (Golden State Warriors)
  • Kyle Korver (Atlanta Hawks)
  • David Lee (Boston Celtics)
  • Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
  • Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
  • Deron Williams (Dallas Mavericks)

Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke was reportedly extended a minicamp invite but he’s not on the list of expected attendees. It’s unclear whether the report was inaccurate or Burke declined.

Lillard and Rose are the big losses. Lillard seems fed up with USA Basketball, so his no-show will be no surprise. Rose’s is a little less expected, though we saw the possibility coming. Rose played in the World Cup, and it seemed his relationship with Team USA assistant coach Tom Thibodeau helped secure him a roster spot. Since the Bulls have fired Thibodeau, maybe that distanced Rose from USA Basketball. More time off could certainly help the point guard after his multiple serious injuries.

Bottom line: This player pool is strong, and Colangelo will have no trouble assembling the best roster in the world before the 2016 Olympics. The key is finding the ideal roster – the one that best blends talent and fit. This minicamp will be mostly ceremonial, but that process will continue there.

Danilo Gallinari says he didn’t see Nuggets’ extension offer coming

Danilo Gallinari, Derrick Favors

In July, the Nuggets signed Danilo Gallinari to a three-year, $45 million extension. It was unusual because it wasn’t just a few more years on his current deal, it included a restructuring of the final year of that contract. The move came as something of a surprise to a lot of people, including Gallinari himself.

From Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post:

“I was very fast in saying yes to this extension,” Gallinari said. “I’m very happy to stay in Denver. This extension came because of the people in Denver, the fact that I’ve been in Denver for awhile now and the fact that I love the city.”

Gallinari said he’s been pleased with the moves the team has made this summer. He’s talked extensively with new coach Michael Malone on the phone and expects to get his first face-to-face chat with the coach when Malone travels to see Gallinari play for Italy in the upcoming European Championships.

“I’m very confident in the choices they made this summer in changing the coach and everything,” Gallinari said. “They are doing everything possible in their capacity to win. And I think that they made the right choices, and hopefully we can start winning again starting this season.”

Under the current CBA, it rarely makes sense for veterans to sign contract extensions, even if they plan to stay with their current team. They’re limited to a three-year deal, and limited in the size of the raise they can get. It’s simply possible to make more money as a free agent than it is under an extension.

But the Nuggets are in a unique position with Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, who also signed a restructured extension. Because the Nuggets are under the cap, they can renegotiate the existing portion of Gallinari’s deal (which is normally prohibited) and give him a raise, as long as it fits under their cap space, and then base the yearly raises in subsequent years of his extension on that number. Gallinari was slated to make $11.5 million in 2015-16, but the Nuggets bumped that number up to $14 million and tacked two more years onto the end, including a player option in 2017-18.

For Gallinari, taking the extra guaranteed money now makes sense given his injury history, and the Nuggets get to lock him up for a price that will seem reasonable in the coming years when the salary cap jumps.

Nuggets GM Tim Connelly: Denver will be better than last season

Denver Nuggets Emmanuel Mudiay Press Conference

The Nuggets won 30 games last year.

They did it with Ty Lawson leading the team in starts, Arron Afflalo ranking fourth and Timofey Mozgov fifth.

Denver traded  Mozgov (to the Cavaliers) and Afflalo (to the Trail Blazers) during the season and Lawson (to the Rockets) this summer. In their place, Denver added rookies Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic and reserves Nick Johnson and Joey Dorsey this offseason.

The Nuggets also hired Michael Malone to replace Brian Shaw as coach.

Does that add up to an improved team?

Denver general manager Tim Connelly, via Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post:

“I fully expect to be better than last year,” Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly said. “I don’t want to put any concrete barometer on what’s good or bad this year. But we’ll be better.”

I generally like the Nuggets’ offseason. Mudiay was an excellent pick, and it was smart to renegotiate and extend Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari. Paying those players more now, when Denver had cap space to burn, will provide helpful savings on the back end of their deals. Once the Nuggets decided they needed to trade Lawson, getting a first-rounder and a couple decent players was a solid return.

That doesn’t translate to an immediately improved team, though.

Lawson, issues considered, was still a very good point guard. Mudiay showed tremendous promise during summer league, but he’s still a rookie at a difficult position.

Maybe Malone coaches better than Shaw. Maybe Gallinari stays healthy and builds on his late-season success. Maybe Jusuf Nurkic continues to develop. Maybe Kenneth Faried defends better.

In fact, I’d consider each of those likely (especially Malone coaching better than Shaw). But relying on a rookie point guard, even a talented one, could undermine all of it.

And that’s fine.

The Nuggets are in a better place with Mudiay. It’s OK if that means fewer wins next season, as long as Mudiay progresses throughout the season.

There’s nothing wrong with a general manager knowingly overstating his team’s ability. That happens all the time, and it generally serves just to excite fans.

But there is a problem with a general manager unknowingly overstating his team’s ability. That often leads to more mistakes down the road.

The Nuggets have struggled to set a direction in recent years, so there’s definitely potential for this to be problematic. There’s also potential for them to exceed expectations, making Connelly’s intent irrelevant.

But the reasonable projection has Denver winning about 30 games again – maybe a few more, but maybe a few less.

Kenneth Faried focused on defense this season

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets

Last season Kenneth Faried came in on a high — he had been the full Manimal for Team USA at the World Cup, and he rode that to a four-year, $50 million extension. But while Coach K liked and knew how to use Faried, Brian Shaw was a different story. Shaw asked Faried to do things on offense he couldn’t do well, kept changing his role, and the coach was understandably frustrated with Faried’s defense, so he jerked his minutes around. With that Faried’s trademark energy came and went.

Faried looked better under interim coach Melvin Hunt (after Shaw was let go), averaging 15.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and shooting 52.5 percent in the final 19 games of the season. Faried showed off an improved post-up game and that fueled his famous energy on the glass and around the court. New Nuggets coach Mike Malone needs to harness that Faried, the one Coach K found (although that USA team was loaded with other players that were a higher priority for defenses, giving Faried space to operate). If the Nuggets are going to get out and run more (as Malone has said) then Faried should thrive, he can finish the break or sprint to the post and be effective either way.

Faried said his focus this season is on the other end of the ball. From Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post.

“My defense, I’ve focused on that,” Faried said in a phone interview from Johannesburg, where he played in NBA Africa Game 2015 on Saturday. “I’ve been watching film on guys that I consider my toughest matchups, and I’ve been able to dissect them so that when the season comes around I’m able to guard those players — and become the player I want to be, and that’s hopefully defensive player of the year one day and first-team all-defense.”


Faried has the physical tools to be a solid defender, but the manic energy that served him well on the other end of the court was both missing and just misguided on defense. It improved last season, and if Faried can continue to turn that around he becomes a much more valuable player.

And a more valuable trade asset.

Faried was shopped around all summer, and you can be sure Denver isn’t done seeing if there is a suitor for him. The Nuggets want a locker room culture change and moving Ty Lawson was just step one, Faried could be on the move as well. He makes a lot of money and is an undersized four — one who has started to show he can be more than an energy glue guy — and the Nuggets think there will be a market for him.

In the past, when Faried has been on the trade block his play has noticeably dipped — he’s not been able to compartmentalize his life and keep the off-the-court stuff from impacting his play on it. Maybe he has matured and gotten used to that side of the NBA business.

Malone got the most out of DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento, he may be able to do the same for Faried. If so his trade value goes up — as will the difficulty of the decision for the Nuggets because maybe he will fit with their future.

Especially if his defense improves.

Cavaliers’ Mozgov can’t sign an extension this summer, wouldn’t want one anyway

2015 NBA Finals - Game Six

It all started with a good story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about big men getting paid. Big men always get overpaid a little in the NBA because: 1) You still need them; 2) There is a limited supply of good ones.

That story told Cavaliers fans it would make no sense for Timofey Mozgov to sign an extension to his current $4.9 million deal as he enters the last year of his contract (the Cavaliers just picked up the option on next season).

True. But he couldn’t sign one anyway, notes former Nets assistant GM and twitter sensation Bobby Marks.

There is actually nobody on the Cavaliers eligible for a contract extension.

But the point that Mozgov wouldn’t sign one even if he could is valid. Mozgov is making $4.9 million and the most that the Cavaliers could offer in a contract extension is $5.4 million a year as a starting point (a 7.5 percent raise). As arguably the best free agent center on the free agent market next summer, Mozgov will command probably closer to $13 million a year, Marks estimates. Even if that number drops a little over the course of the season, we’re talking about a deal more than double what he could get an extension. Even if he wants to stay a Cavalier, it makes more sense to become a free agent and re-sign than it does to sign an extension.

Unless we’re talking rookie contracts (where the rules are different), contract extensions are very rare in the new CBA. It doesn’t make sense for most players, because they cannot be for the max number of years (why Kevin Durant will not sign one) and raises are limited. Extensions do happen, Danilo Gallinari reached a deal for one with the Nuggets this summer, but they are the exception, not the rule under the new CBA.

Mozgov is going to be an in-demand man next summer.