There’s been a tremendous amount of attention shined on the Los Angeles Lakers for acquiring Dwight Howard close to nothing. After all, they were able to hold on to Pau Gasol and “only” departing with Andrew Bynum. Let’s give credit where credit is due.
However, let’s not forget a quiet, cunning ninja that was silently plotting his own bold move for a mid-market team at 5,280 feet above sea level.
Denver Nuggets General Manager Masai Ujiri.
Masai entered Denver just when Melo Drama was heating up, and when many others may have faltered, this cunning man never batted an eyelash. Months went by of rumors that the Nets were interested in Melo, and Masai used those Nets as a bargaining chip. In the end, in February of 2011, Denver traded Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Shelden Williams, and Anthony Carter to the New York Knicks in a three-team trade that would also send Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, and Danilo Gallinari (cash + picks were also sent to Denver) to Denver from the Big Apple. Also, Denver would receive Kosta Koufos from Minnesota, Minny sends Corey Brewer to New York and New York sends Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph to Minny.
Denver flipped Raymond Felton to Portland for Andre Miller and a 26th pick in the 2011 draft which Denver selected Jordan Hamilton, and Denver would also select Kenneth Faried in the same draft.Denver traded a second-round pick for Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer.
Anthony Randolph signed with Denver during 2012 free agency, Denver drafted Evan Fournier and Quincy Miller in the 2012 draft, and Denver still has picks leftover from the Melo trade.
Then out of nowhere, JaVale McGee was traded to Denver and Nene was shipped out to Washington. Surprisingly, Denver’s system, a real coach, and a winning atmosphere — thus far — has done JaVale well as Masai believes in talent, he re-signed JaVale to a fat contract.
That brings us to the Dwight Howard blockbuster trade in which Denver vastly upgraded by sending Denver nice guy Al Harrington and Denver’s sweetheart Arron Afflalo for the enigmatic Andre Iguodala.
Sure Denver may not be a contender, perhaps still just mediocre, but the fact is Masai is improving Denver year by year and trade by trade.