NBA Draft/Free Agency Preview: The Denver Nuggets Pull the Plug on George Karl
The Denver Nuggets are coming off their franchise-best 57-win season (but still failed to advance beyond the 1st Round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs) and what do they do? Fire veteran head coach George Karl. To go along with that move, GM Masai Ujiri bolted to Toronto to take the same role with the Raptors. It is unclear what direction the Nuggets will take from this point; as the team appears to have hit its apex with the current core of players. Ty Lawson still has plenty of upside, and has inserted himself as the face of the franchise, but there are a number of moving pieces around him that make the immediate future of the Nuggets unclear.
After Lawson, the plans of F Andre Iguodala will have an effect on the Nuggets’ plans. Whoever the new GM and head coach will be will have a job cut out for them heading into 2013-2014. Iguodala has stated that he plans to opt out of his contract and explore free agency this summer. F Danilo Gallinari is coming off a torn ACL in the playoffs, which puts the first part of next season in doubt for him. F Wilson Chandler has been oft-injured since he was included in the trade that sent F Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks in return for Gallinari, Chandler and C Timofey Mozgov (along with a couple of picks from the Knicks; one of which was for this season and a 1st Round pick in 2014).
Denver’s staff managed to get more out of F/C JaVale McGee than the Washington Wizards ever did, and his potential upside is still unrealized at this time. Along with Kenneth Faried and Mozgov, the Nuggets have a young, athletic and defensive-minded front line. The issue with the big men for the Nuggets is that none of them are much of a post threat offensively. This may be an area where the Nuggets are willing to upgrade by trading one of their coveted pieces such as Wilson Chandler. The 27th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft is most likely not going to net the Nuggets much of a difference-maker. If Iguodala returns to the Nuggets, they will be over the cap, as well as the luxury tax, which would prevent them from engaging in sign-and-trade moves with other players, and restrict them from utilizing anything more than the taxpayers mini mid-level exception. The only hope is that they are able to finagle a trade exception by trading one of their other players such as Anthony Randolph.
Maybe Ujiri knew that the Nuggets had reached their ceiling with this current bunch, and there was no chance to win an NBA Championship in Denver, with the Raptors possessing much more upside.
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