5 Moves the Denver Nuggets Could Make During Free Agency
5 Potential Free Agent Acquisitions for the Denver Nuggets
Another year, another disappointing finish to the season for the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets finished the 2012-2013 regular season with a 57-25 record giving them the #3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. In the first round they matched up with the Golden State Warriors and lost the series in six games. Head Coach George Karl was named the 2012-2013 NBA Coach of the Year but was fired earlier this month. While Karl's teams have succeeded in the regular season, they constantly come up short in the postseason. The move was questioned in the media, but I was a fan of the Nuggets moving on from Karl. Yes, he is a good coach, but they seemed to be going nowhere. While they are talented, a different direction seems to be needed in Denver.
In addition to firing Karl, the Nuggets let General Manager Masai Ujiri go, as he took the same position with the Toronto Raptors. This move was also a big surprise as Ujiri is considered to be a top-shelf front office executive and is well respected around the NBA. Obviously, the ownership of the Nuggets are not happy with the direction that Karl and Ujiri had the team going and felt like it was time for a change.
On Tuesday, Denver replaced Ujiri with Tim Connelly, who will now lead the search to find Karl's replacement. Brian Shaw and Lionel Hollins appear to be the top candidates for the Nuggets' head coaching job, and I think either guy would be a great fit in Denver.
On the court, the Nuggets have a nice young core to build around with Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faired. Also, the Nuggets have some good role players like Wilson Chandler and Andre Miller who will certainly be key parts to the team next season. If the Nuggets can find a way to add a couple of pieces to that core, they might finally be able to make a playoff run.
With Andre Igoudala opting out of his contract, the Nuggets do have a little bit of salary cap flexibility to work with. Even though Igoudala played well for Denver last year, I think that money could be better spend on an outside shooter and some sort of a post player to team with Faried.
Here are five unrestricted free agents that I think the Nuggets should look to acquire. If they can pull in a couple of these guys and hire the right head coach, Denver should be able to get over that hump and make a deep playoff run.
David West was a huge part of the Indiana Pacers when they made a run to the Eastern Conference Finals. West is a strong rebounder, good defender and solid scorer. His toughness and ability to hit mid range jumpers would be a very welcome addition to the Nuggets.
O.J. Mayo would give the Nuggets a player who can create his own shot. Outside of Lawson, the Nuggets are filled with players who need others to create for them to score. Whether it be from the outside or driving through the lane, Mayo is a guy that can create opportunities for himself.
Josh Smith is probably the best fit for Denver out of every player available in free agency. He is quick and athletic enough to run the floor with Lawson, he can create his own shot and he is an elite rebounder and defender. Smith has it all and will surely be a hot commodity this summer. As it stands now, the Nuggets can probably not afford Smith, but I could see them making some moves to make room for J-Smoove.
J.J. Redick would be an inexpensive option for the Nuggets that would fill a key need. They simply need another outside shooter or two, and that is Redick's specialty. His outside shooting would help clear space in the lane for Lawson to operate.
I realize that this is a bit of a stretch, but I think that Dwight Howard would be a great fit in Denver. His defensive presence would improve the Nuggets' team defense dramatically, and he is athletic enough to run the floor with the fast paced Nuggets. Let's be honest; nobody knows what Howard is thinking or what he will end up doing. I would be mildly surprised if he ended up in Denver, but you never know with him.