There isn’t a roster in the league that you could look up and down and say “Ehh, they couldn’t use another big man.” That’s the very reason that the Big Z-Cleveland release-and-catch is so offensive to so many teams; the move doesn’t seem like it should be legal, sure, but those who have been the most vocal about it are those threatened by Cleveland’s competition or those that would be vying for Ilgauskas’ services.
Productive centers with decent size go a long way in the NBA, and true depth at the 5 is something of a Holy Grail for many championship and playoff contenders.
In that light, the Nuggets’ rumored flirtations with just about every free agent big man on the NBA radar makes perfect sense. They could very well find themselves matched up against the Lakers in the playoffs, and that frontcourt? Not exactly small. L.A.’s size is one of the reasons they’re so difficult to match and match-up with.
To further complicate things, Chris Andersen, a vital component of Denver’s bench and their most effective center behind Nene, isn’t well. He hasn’t been for some time, and won’t be for a long while. From Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post:
On the orders of the training staff, [Andersen] sat out the second half of the Nuggets’ 101-85 loss at Phoenix on Monday. Then there was a day off before the Oklahoma City game. “With four games in five nights, it’s really not enough time for you to do as much treatment as I needed, and to get in the weight room. So it was tough,” Andersen said. “But I got a little bit of rest, even though I didn’t want to. I tried to give it a go against Phoenix, and they said just (to) sit out the rest of the half due to the fact that my knee was strained. But it’s a matter of bouncing back, because we definitely needed that game (on Wednesday). We definitely have to take care of our home court.”
Andersen will likely not be 100 percent during the rest of the regular season or into the playoffs. Asked if he knows what he’ll feel like from one day to the next, Andersen said “No.”
“Usually when I get up, I’m in some big pain, but that’s just the way it goes,” he said. “It’s been a tough year so far with all of the back-to-backs we’ve had. It’s just a matter of fighting through it.”
Andersen’s injury is even more damaging to the Nuggets because Andersen’s real value comes in his activity level; he’s more mobile than most centers, which makes him an incredibly effective weak-side shot blocker. But when he’s enduring constant soreness and pain in a bum knee? Well, it doesn’t exactly improve his abilities as a rotating defender, that’s for sure.
But these are hardly developments with Andersen’s injured knee so much as they are lingering storylines. It’s something that will chase Denver through the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs, and the only plausible solution at this point is to grab a free agent and hope they’re able to provide Chris some rest.
The Nuggets just need few minutes out of a capable third center. That man is not Malik Allen , nor Johan Petro. But considering how late it is in the season and Denver’s circumstances, there may not be many other options. So they’ll chase Z, they’ll probably chase Mark Blount, or Jake Voskuhl, or some unsigned “gem.” And though expectations will likely be pretty low for a guy of Blount or Voskuhl’s caliber, they’re not needed for much: just a simple role and a simple job that could be all the difference come April, maybe May, and hopefully for the Nuggets, June.