The further into this NBA offseason the Denver Nuggets go, the more and more it is looking like they have no real plan whatsoever. Their latest head-scratching acquisition is none other than Nate Robinson, a sub-six-foot point guard who will backup another point guard that is also under six feet tall.
It could be argued that mistake number-one for the Nuggets this offseason was allowing Masai Ujiri to head north of the border to become the GM of his former employer, the Toronto Raptors. That argument would be incorrect, as Denver’s first mistake was not keeping Ujiri’s former assistant Pete D’Alessandro in the Mile High City as its next GM.
Many would argue that the loss of Ujiri was larger than that of D’Alessandro. However, had the Nuggets retained D’Alessandro, there would have been some semblance of continuity in the front office. Ujiri, D’Alessandro and Josh Kroenke were equal partners in constructing Denver’s roster even though Kroenke has appeared to take credit for all of it following Ujiri and D’Alessandro’s exits. Ujiri’s successor, Tim Connelly has never been a part of a successful NBA franchise and his name was not mentioned as a possibility for the Nuggets position prior to his hiring. Only time will tell whether or not he can be a successful GM. So far, D’Alessandro is making moves for the Sacramento Kings.
Kroenke wants to hang banners, not win awards. As such, the dismissal of George Karl was no mistake. It was time for him to go. First time head coach Brian Shaw was the perfect replacement to lead this young, talented squad and to maximize its potential. These transactions are some of the only ones that the Nuggets got right so far this summer. Letting Andre Iguodala go to another team instead of overpaying for his services definitely fits into the category of good moves.
The Kings almost became the team that overpaid for Iguodala’s services. Sure, the Nuggets got Randy Foye for their trouble in a sign-and-trade deal, however, D’Alessandro decided not to wait for Iguodala to make up his mind and acquired Grevis Vasquez in exchange for sending Tyreke Evans to the New Orleans Pelicans. Advantage: D’Alessandro and the Kings.
Then, Denver signed J.J. Hickson, the double-double averaging power forward. A solid signing, no doubt. Meanwhile, the Kings signed Carl Landry. This one is a wash, but certainly the Nuggets would want to replace some of the perimeter defense they lost when Iggy bolted for the Golden State Warriors, right? A guy like Luc Richard Mbah a Moute would fit that description, correct? Sorry, but D’Alessandro already made him a King for a second-round pick in 2016.
The Nuggets sat on their hands while all of the shooters were taken off the market in the first week of free agency and are now left picking up the crumbs. This is where Nate Robinson comes in. Sure, he can score in bunches. Scoring has never been a problem for Denver as they lead the NBA in scoring during the 2012-13 season with 106.1 per contest. If the Nuggets were looking for scoring off the bench at the point guard position, they should have chosen to sign their second-round pick Erick Green instead of Robinson. Green lead the NCAA in scoring last season and would have absolutely commanded a lower salary than Robinson.
In Sacramento, the Kings have signed rookies Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum to contracts following a decent showing at the Las Vegas Summer League. Both young guards look to be promising contributors for the Kings and it looks like Kroenke has outsmarted himself this time. Kroenke wanted the spotlight and the credit and now he has it all to himself. In doing so, Kroenke has revealed the man that was truly behind the curtain of the Nuggets success over the past three seasons, Pete D’Alessandro.