5 Tough Decisions The Denver Nuggets Must Make This Offseason
Denver Nuggets Offseason: 5 Tough Decisions They Must Make
The 2013 NBA offseason marks the start of a new era for the Denver Nuggets. Owner and team President Josh Kroenke is determined to put his fingerprints all over this franchise and prove to the basketball world that he was just as much a part of the Nuggets success as Masai Ujiri.
In the past few weeks, Ujiri has left the Nuggets' front office for the Toronto Raptors, George Karl was fired after nine seasons as head coach and the front-runner to replace Ujiri, Pete D'Alessandro, was allowed to take the GM job with the Sacramento Kings. This week began with more Nuggets news as Kroenke hired a new Executive Vice President of Basketball operations in Tim Connelly, and the team announced the departures of two more front office guys, Dan Tolzman to the Raptors and Mike Bratz to the Kings. Make no mistake about it, this Nuggets team is essentially starting over from a management perspective.
The Nuggets are at a crossroads that will shape the franchise for up to the next decade. Much like the summer of 2003, when Carmelo Anthony was drafted by Denver and Kiki Vandeweghe set the Nuggets on a playoff path for the next 10 years, the Nuggets have many important choices to make. They better choose wisely or the club could slide all the way back to the dark days of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Some have called the new direction Kroenke is taking the Nuggets franchise "bold," to say the least. Many have questioned whether or not Kroenke actually knows what he is doing, while others are calling him the Jerry Jones of the NBA. Any way you slice it, here are five more tough decisions that the Nuggets are going to have to make this offseason.
Rid Themselves Of Andre Miller
Andre Miller was George Karl's crutch. He was played way too much last season, often at the detriment to the team. Miller would prefer to be in a starting role and likely will not be happy under the new regime as his minutes look to be drastically reduced. The Nuggets need to trade him before he becomes even more of a malcontent and while they can still get some value from him, as he really showed his age during the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors.
Trade Kosta Koufos
Kosta Koufos started 81 games for the Nuggets this season, much to the chagrin of management despite the fact that JaVale McGee was just inked to a four-year deal worth $44 million. Koufos was absolutely one of the contributing factors to Karl's demise. Look for Kroenke to clear out any reminders to Karl's regime, especially given Koufos' disappearing act in the playoffs against the Warriors. Koufos is a serviceable big man in this league and should be able to return something that the Nuggets would covet, perhaps some three-point shooting.
Re-sign Corey Brewer
Corey Brewer will be a free agent come July 1. He has played an integral role off the bench for the Nuggets the past two seasons. He plays solid defense and is one of the few reliable three-point shooters that the Nuggets have left. New GM Tim Connelly has said that retaining Andre Iguodala is the Nuggets no. 1 priority this offseason. Because of that, some team with cap space could very easily swoop in and steal Brewer from the Nuggets.
The Nuggets cannot afford to lose Brewer's production off the bench. They must make him a reasonable offer at midnight on July 1 or they will overpay to keep him later, and that would be absolutely inexcusable. Brewer is worth the mid-level exception at best, but some teams get crazy and fall in love with guys during free agency. The Nuggets must keep Brewer, but only if it is at the right price.
Hire Brian Shaw As Coach
The Nuggets interviewed Indiana Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw and former Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins this week. Both coaches are fresh off runs to their respective Conference Finals. However, only one of these coaches has a championship pedigree.
Shaw was a part of the Los Angeles Lakers championship teams as both a player and coach. While some might lead you to believe that Phil Jackson's coaching tree has not born any fruit, the sample size for each coach has been too small to tell what kind of a coach any of them might actually be. Only Kurt Rambis has coached at least one full NBA season, and that was with the hapless, pre-Ricky Rubio Minnesota Timberwolves. Personally, I would rather the Nuggets choose the guy who has a track record of being in a winning situation and the endorsement of Kobe Bryant, instead of wanting them to pick Hollins because he hung out with me on a trip to Africa.
Let Andre Iguodala Walk
The toughest decision that the Nuggets have to make this offseason is to let Andre Iguodala walk away from them. Iguodala has decided to opt out of the final year of his contract in which he would earn $16.1 million. That figure is more than any other Nuggets player is scheduled to make anytime soon. Granted, that contract was signed under the old collective bargaining agreement. However, that kind of salary needs to be reserved for a true franchise player or a superstar, and Iguodala does not fit either of those roles. He is known for his exceptional defense, but has never won a Defensive Player of the Year Award, nor has he been named to an All-Defensive First Team. Now, if he were known as the best defender in the league, he might be worthy of that salary, however I am just not convinced.
If Iguodala is willing to take a hefty pay cut to stay with the Nuggets, then I am all for it. A perfect salary for him to stay in Denver is about $9 million, anything more than that and the Nuggets should balk and save that dough for a legitimate superstar. I am afraid that Iguodala will end up making much more than that and the Nuggets should seek out a sign-and-trade so that they are getting some compensation for him. Otherwise, they traded Arron Afflalo to the Orlando Magic for a one-year Iggy rental. If they choose to overpay to keep Iguodala, they do so at the risk of mortgaging their long-term flexibility.