Blog Entry

Denver might want to follow in the Cavs misery

Posted on: February 5, 2011 2:26 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2011 2:51 pm
Posted by Royce Young

They are 8-42. They've dropped 23 games in row, which ties the all-time NBA record. They've lost 33 of 34, an NBA record.

They are the Cleveland Cavaliers and they are awful. Saturday night, chances are looking good for the Cavs to break the all-time record for consecutive losses against the Trail Blazers.

One year ago through 50 games, they were 39-11 and cruising toward 61 wins. My, what a difference having the best player in basketball makes.

But take a good look at this, Denver Nuggets. Because this could be your future. Don't let it scare you though, because it could also be the right path to take too.

The Nuggets have been fighting tooth and nail the past few months trying to round together a suitable trade for their star Carmelo Anthony. He isn't signing the extension Denver has on the table so it's obvious -- he's leaving.

There's a fear in the Nugget front office of what will happen next. Subtract Carmelo Anthony from the Nuggets and what are they? A slightly more talented and slightly older Cleveland Cavaliers without LeBron, right? And you know Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke have been watching closely as the Cavs slide backwards into the NBA record books. They are afraid of next season. They are afraid of facing a season of 20 wins as Carmelo skates off to another team. They are afraid of being terrible.

But really, isn't that the very blueprint for quality rebuilding?

The Nuggets are trying to piece together a trade that brings them some first-round picks (most likely of the non-lottery variety) a talented young player and maybe an above average talent as well. Whatever they get, even if it's the very best deal possible, isn't going to equal Carmelo Anthony's value. The reciprocation will be marginal, at best. They'll get just enough to stay mediocre, probably sliding to the back of the pack of the West. They're looking at maybe struggling to 40 wins, but more than likely 35. Whatever the case, they aren't going to stay any kind of actual contender, as if they were one right now anyway.

Denver has a lot of roster questions coming in the future. What happens with Chauncey Billups who is 34 and will be a free agent next summer? What about Nene, who has an early termination option for this summer? Or J.R. Smith, who is an unrestricted free agent? The Nuggets have a real opportunity to start fresh after Melo walks, and it starts by wallowing in some serious misery.

You can be sure that Cavs fans are suffering right now. To go from one of the best teams in the league to the wrong side of the record book is surely tough to stomach. If they were burning LeBron jerseys the night of "The Decision," they might feeling like burning their season tickets now.

But what happens after this season? The Cavs will finish with one of the worst records in the game and will likely get a top five pick. They'll have the opportunity to land that next franchise builder. So what they really got was seven years of amazing basketball with LeBron and instead of going through the typical evolution of five years of horribly average seasons where the team is never good enough to do anything but never bad enough to get anything. The Cavs have an amazing opportunity, really. They get a chance at the next LeBron. They get a chance at the next franchise builder.

Now of course, that next big thing might not be in this draft. Jared Sullinger looks fantastic and he's a local kid from Ohio State, which is nice. Kyrie Irving looks like a fantastic talent capable of building a team around. Kemba Walker, Perry Jones, Terrence Jones -- there's some talent to be had. The next part is up to Dan Gilbert and general manager Chris Grant to get right (and for the Cavs to get lucky with the No. 1 or No. 2 pick).

Take Oklahoma City for example. When general manager Sam Presti was hired, he committed himself to a long-term vision. He set dynamite to the team, trading cornerstone Ray Allen and letting Rashard Lewis walk. The then-Sonics had the good fortune of landing the No. 2 pick and even better fortune of getting Kevin Durant with that pick and then Jeff Green for Allen. The next year, Presti used the fourth pick on Russell Westbrook. The Sonics/Thunder went 31-51 in 2006-07, 20-62 in 2007-08 and 23-59 in 2008-09. But the vision started to pan out in 2009-10 when the Thunder stormed to 50 wins and the eight-seed in the West. Now they're 32-17 and appear to be set up for at least a decade of good basketball. That's the blueprint for rebuilding.

So really, didn't LeBron do the Cavs a favor by walking away the way he did? He left them entirely in ruins and as a result, they get the chance to start fresh now, rather than running in place for four years while they slowly learn they didn't get equal talent in a trade. They will have the chance at a fresh start with a new fun and captivating player to build around. All coming just a year after LeBron left them crying in their pillows.

That's where the Nuggets are. They don't want to get LeBron'd, or to a less degree, Bosh'd like Toronto, so they're fighting to keep their heads above water. But maybe the best plan is to just tie a rock to your feet and plunge to the bottom of the ocean for the next year or two or three. Starting over isn't always a bad thing. As the Cavs will tell you, it hurts now --  really bad in fact -- but as history has shown, most times the best way to get back is by falling hard.

The way the Nuggets are planning to approach this is half measure. They're trying to find the best of both worlds. Instead of going all in, they're trying to find something to preserve current success. It's just not possible though.

But for the good of the franchise, it's probably better to live through hell now with the hope to find heaven later. That's the Cleveland way right now and it might be in Denver's best interest to follow along.

Since: Jan 13, 2011
Posted on: February 6, 2011 5:26 am

Denver might want to follow in the Cavs misery

If Melo were to get traded by the trade deadline, Denver would still have a very good team (assuming Melo was the only one to get traded). Next year when they have so many free agents who could leave will be a different story.

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: February 6, 2011 1:03 am

Denver might want to follow in the Cavs misery

First Denver's roster without Melo is a heck of a lot better than Cleveland's without LeBron.  Chauncey Billups or Mo Williams...not close.  J.R. Smith or shooting guard dujour.  Second Melo is no LeBron.  He's a good player, but he plays no defense and doesn't really make his teammates better.  Will it be a blow if he leaves...certainly, but the impact will not be catastrophic.

Since: Mar 2, 2009
Posted on: February 6, 2011 12:14 am

Denver might want to follow in the Cavs misery

the stormed to 50 wins and the eight-seed in the West. Now they're 32-17 and appear to be set up for at least a decade of good basketball. That's the blueprint for rebuilding.

Unless, of course, the Thunder's stars bolt for green pastures in a few years. 

And, Mr, Young, you're depending on the Draft which is a crapshoot at times.  Denver has had the worst record in the league several times and has NEVER gotten the top pick in the Draft--and in fact has never even gotten the #2 pick.  (By contrast, a decent San Antonio franchise intentionally tanks the year David Robinson went down, ends up with the worst record, GETS the top pick and lands Tim Duncan.  Take that lucky bounce of the ball away, and the Spurs probably have no championships.)  Then you have to hope you get the #1 pick when there is a real difference maker available, unlike say when Michael Jordan was making the pick for Washington and there was no consensus #1.  (Joe Johnson was probably the best player to come out of that draft, and he hasn't won a thing.)

Yes, you can sometimes rebuild from the bottom up, but I think if you look at the teams that have won championships since, say 1990, you'll find that none of them were ever really at the very bottom.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: February 5, 2011 9:33 pm

Denver might want to follow in the Cavs misery

I forgot to mention Martin has a 16  million expiring contract.  The Nuggets have 66 miilon off the books and if Nene 11 million is picked up it's still 55 million off the books they can use on free agents. 

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: February 5, 2011 9:31 pm

Denver might want to follow in the Cavs misery

I don't believe The Nuggets are as one dimensional as the Cavs were.  Plus they have a ton of money coming off the books.  18 mil for Melo, 14 mil for Billups and 11mil for Nene, and Jr.Smith 6.5mil. That's 50 million!!! off the books, they can resign Nene and still have plenty of cap space to pick up a big free Agent. And there are so many big time Free Agents that out there this summer, Tyson Chandler, Zach Randolph, David West just to name a few...the free agent class this year is deeper than last years.  Unlike the Cavs the Nuggets have Alot of Cap space.  

Since: Feb 19, 2007
Posted on: February 5, 2011 5:18 pm

Denver might want to follow in the Cavs misery

There's just one problem with this argument.  OKC had Sam Presti, who was in the Spurs' front office and had at least moderate experience being around winners and knowing the formula to build them.

Can anybody say the same about Masai Ujiri or Chris Grant?

It could end up working out for Denver and Cleveland, but I doubt it.  Neither team is known for being a perennial contender (for playoffs or championships), and with the front office personnel they currently have, it's doubtful to me that they can become such.

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