Looking at the entire sports landscape now, it’s easy to see that the NBA trade deadline is the closest to what happens every summer for Major League Baseball. Players who are destined for free agency get moved, good teams try to acquire one more piece for a championship, and bad teams try to amass young talent and draft picks to build for the future.
And then, there are the Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets have played good basketball for the majority of the season and there’s talk that they could escape the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2009. They brought in Andre Iguodala during the offseason to improve the roster and although he hasn’t necessarily played like a superstar, he’s been solid addition for this team. Midway through the season, the Nuggets are sitting on the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and have gone a run (nine wins in row) that makes people believe they could get as high as No. 3.
But they think they can do it without getting better at the trade deadline.
General manager Masai Ujiri said yesterday that he likes his young team. Nuggets management is not necessarily in it for this year, but rather building for the future. So Denver stood pat at the deadline.
While it’s always important to keep one eye on the future, if you’re not going to try for it all this year, then what’s the point?
Mile High Sports Radio host Peter Burns did some research this week that suggests if the Nuggets can’t get high enough in the standings to take the No. 3 seed in the west, it is highly unlikely they can win an NBA title. His finding? Since the NBA expanded the playoffs to 16 teams, only one team seeded Nos. 4-8 won a title – the 1995 Houston Rockets. To solidify his point, he said on The Press Box (7a-9a | AM 1510 and FM 93.7) that the Avalanche would have a better chance of winning a championship this year.
Surely if Burns can take the time to look at the numbers, someone over at Pepsi Center has worked to get to the same conclusion. Rather than take the competitor’s route of aiming to break into the West’s top-three, the Nuggets have decided to temper expectations and not make a single move that could potentially help them down the stretch.
A report earlier this week claimed the Nuggets even turned down an offer of Brandon Roy and first-round pick in the draft for center Timofey Mozgov. I had almost forgotten that Mozgov was still on the roster until I read that report. Forget about Brandon Roy’s bad knees; a team was willing to part with a first-rounder for a guy who hardly sees the floor for the Nuggets. And the Nuggets turned it down.
I personally would take a case of Coors Light for Mozgov. He’s expected to leave the team via free agency at the end of the year, so it seems illogical for the team not to get any value from him right now.
Even though I question the Nuggets’ reasoning for not letting a player go, it’s more confusing as to why they wouldn’t try to add a piece.
Did they inquire about Josh Smith? Did they make an offer to Orlando for J.J. Redick? Heck, try giving the Lakers a call to see how badly they went to get rid of Dwight Howard.
The front office will claim to have their pieces that they want to build around, but the future can be shaky. It’s a possibility that Iguodala will opt out of his contract after this season and test the free agent waters. I’m still not sold on the more than $40 million that the team paid JaVale McGee. Last season, they realized the money they spent on their big man was a poor investment. I have yet to see anything from McGee that tells me this situation is different from what happened with Nene. If that turns out to be the case, it’s only a matter of time before the Nuggets are begging someone to take that contract off their hands.
When the Nuggets have lost games they easily should’ve won this year, George Karl has been quick with excuses. Between injuries and too many consecutive games, the reasoning for the team’s failure to truly stand out as one of the best team in conference has grown tiresome. Yesterday felt the same way, as Ujiri and Josh Kroenke failed to make a move that could help the Nuggets this season and beyond.
To say they like they’re a young team is admitting that they have no championship aspirations this year or next year. It sounds good in theory, but fans will grow impatient if they don’t see their team making a move that makes them better today.
No team in the NBA has made a better case for accepting mediocrity than the Nuggets. They proved it yesterday by doing nothing and being happy with the status quo.
MORE NUGGETS NEWS
Masai Ujiri says not to a bevy of trade offers (CLICK HERE)
Nuggets turn down offer for Mozgov (CLICK HERE)
Dover: To trade or not to trade? (CLICK HERE)