Tag:Denver Nuggets
Posted on: June 8, 2011 5:52 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2011 6:47 pm
 

Report: Nene closing in on extension with Nuggets

Posted by Royce Young

Just as his name was beginning to surface in semi-wild trade rumors, according to Chris Tomasson of Twitter.com, Nene is nearing an extension with the Nuggets.

Sources tell Tomasson that Nene's agent, Dan Fegan, is deep into discussions with Denver and is optimistic a deal will get done by June 30. Reportedly, Nene's preference is to remain in Denver instead of opting out of his contract June 30 and testing the free agent market.

Nene is set to make $11.6 million next season but can sign a three-year extension keeping him in Denver through 2015. Currently, he's in his native Brazil but is expected back next week. Meaning if there's real momentum here, he could be walking back to sign a new contract.

Obviously, the Nuggets are committed to making Nene one of their cornerstone players. He's one of the league's most talented big men and, at just 28, he's still got some good time in his prime left. Last season, he averaged 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game on a career-high 61.5 percent shooting from the field. And that's with him not really being a focal point of the offense until the last third of the season.

Give Nene time on the block as Denver's No. 1 or 2 option and he's a legit 18-8 threat. Maybe even a 20-point per game guy. He's got talent. And he knows it. Which is why if the Nuggets want to keep him through 2015, they're going to have to be willing to pay.

Evidently, they are.

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 29, 2011 1:28 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2011 1:30 pm
 

Report: Cops cite J.R. Smith for scooter ride

Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith was reportedly cited in Miami for a scooter ride. Posted by Ben Golliver. jr-smith

With the NBA Finals beginning on Tuesday between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, the NBA universe is converging on South Beach this week.

That includes Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith, who reportedly ran afoul of the law before the series even got a chance to get underway.

TMZ.com reportsthat Smith was cited over the weekend for riding on a scooter without a license. 
J.R. Smith is not going to gain any street cred from this arrest -- he was popped in Miami this weekend for operating a scooter without a valid driver's license... Law enforcement sources tell TMZ Smith, who has played the last five seasons with the Denver Nuggets, was not taken to jail for the offense. We're told Smith signed a notice to appear -- he'll get his court date later.
Of all of Smith's many problems operating motor vehicles, this might be the only one that can be laughed off.

In August 2009, the Denver Post reported that Smith's license was suspended through March 2012 due to the fact that he plead guilty to reckless driving when he was behind the wheel during an accident in which the passenger in his car was killed, and "additional driving offenses."
 
Prior to that accident, the Associated Press reported that Smith's driver's license had been suspended at least five times.

A post on iblog126.com
on Saturday showed Smith, or a person looking a lot like him, in handcuffs and surrounded by the authorities.

Hat tip: Sham Sports
Category: NBA
Posted on: May 3, 2011 6:19 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 6:29 pm
 

Nuggets big man Nene to opt out?

Denver Nuggets center Nene Hilario says he is considering opting out of his contract. Posted by Ben Golliver. nene-hilario

It's time for Nene Hilario to get paid. 

The Nuggets big man has an option on the final year of his contract which is set to pay him $12 million. He's 28 years old, coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 14.5 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per game. What's more, he's been durable of late, missing just 12 games combined in the last three seasons. 

To no one's great surprise, The Denver Post reports that Nene is making noise about opting out of the final year of his contract.
While no final decision has been made, Nene said Monday he is strongly considering opting out of the final season of his six-year, $60 million contract, which would pay him $12 million, and testing the free-agent market. 
After nine seasons in the NBA, Nene has full control of his future and it could take hard work for the Nuggets to make him happy enough to return.
"I've been here for nine years," said Nene, 28. "If that doesn't work how you want it, you need to sit down and evaluate everything and see what you can do."
The most likely eventuality here is that the Nuggets and Nene eventually agree to a lucrative extension. Nene is a critical piece on a frontline that includes veterans Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen as well as the recently-acquired Timofey Mozgov. Nene is the linchpin and the Nuggets would be taking a major step backwards if they aren't able to retain him.

SI.com reports: "Nuggets and Nene are not close to an agreement on an extension, sources say. Haven't discussed terms in weeks. Nene is inclined to stay in Denver. But there will be a robust market for 28-year old center. Houston, Portland possibilities." It's worth noting that Portland is capped out so that would have to be an extend-and-trade scenario.

The Nuggets are behind the eight ball here and will be forced to pay up. But if Nene is determined to get maximum money there will be multiple teams with cap space this summer and talented, proven big men are always in high demand. In other words: ca-ching.
Posted on: April 28, 2011 3:08 pm
 

The Nuggets and their uncertain future

Posted by Royce Young



After the Nuggets' season wrapped up with a 100-97 Game 5 loss to Oklahoma City, George Karl summed up his team's whirlwind season pretty simply.

"I'm proud to be a part of what they've done. It's going to be hard to swallow but I think we have a bright future and a bright energy coming out of Denver and through a year that had many, many faces," he said. "We will, somewhere in the next week or so, wake up and realize we had one hell of a season.''

But that energy and future has a number of questions surrounding it. As much transition as the Nuggets' roster went through during the season, it may face a similar fate this offseason.

Wilson Chandler is a restricted free agent. So is Arron Afflalo. Nene has an early termination option that he's hinted towards exercising. Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith are both unrestricted free agents, with Smith already talking about going elsewhere.

Most of the Nuggets' core that built such a promising future and so much excitement, could be somewhere else next year. Chandler was asked postgame by The Denver Post about his future .

"I have no idea," Chandler said. "I'm just going to wait it out and see what happens. ... I just focus on now. I can't control the future."

Chandler struggled mightily in the postseasno going just 7-28 from the field in Denver's five games. He had played really well in Denver down the stretch, but his stinker in the playoffs may have cost him a bigger offer this summer.

Smith was asked again about his future in Denver and he didn't back off his previous statement. "Right now, I don't know (about returning to Denver). I still got to weigh some options and see what happens," he said . "Yeah, I feel better [about re-signing with the Nuggets]." Smith has had a bunch of up and down moments with the Nuggets, always remaining on a short leash from George Karl. A talented, versatile player that just never has been able to keep it together mentally, he'll find someone that wants him though.

Martin: "Yeah I don't want to leave. But it's out of my control right now So we'll see."

If Martin intends to stay in Denver, he's going to have to take a cut. He made $16.5 million this season and there's no way he sees that kind of cash again. He's aging and has battled a number of injuries lately. He's an important piece and someone definitely worth keeping, but only if the money works.

And then of course, the big one -- Nene. The Denver big man has definitely made it appear that he'll exercise that ETO and explore the free agent market. If he does, he'll command a hefty price tag. At just 27, he's settling in as one of the league's top big men and is an All-Star caliber center. Those kinds of guys tend to get paid. So general manager Masai Ujiri will have to make the call as to if Nene is something worth making the centerpiece of the organization. Nene is going to want star money. It's up to Denver to give it to him.

Most felt when Denver made the Carmelo Anthony deal it was all about cap flexibility and rebuilding. Then this roster played really well together. I don't know if that's what Ujiri expected but he's definitely re-evaluating what to do with it now. He has a chance to open up some cap space. Or he can keep most of the core intact. An interesting question.

Like George Karl said, sometime these guys will wake up and realize they had a great season. There is a great future coming out of Denver. It's just a little uncertain at this point.
Posted on: April 26, 2011 3:11 am
Edited on: April 26, 2011 1:55 pm
 

So, what got into Russell Westbrook?

Posted by Royce Young



There were a lot of stories to come out of Monday night's 104-101 Denver win over Oklahoma City. The fact the Thunder didn't close the series. The fact the Nuggets snapped a five-game losing streak to OKC. The fact Denver finally found some of that scary scoring balance again.

But the angle that has a lot of people talking? Russell Westbrook.

The Thunder's All-Star point guard scored 30 points, had five assists and six rebounds against Denver Monday. If you changed his name to Derrick Rose, everyone would promptly freak out. The catch here is two-fold: Westbrook took 30 shots and he also has this dude named Kevin Durant on his team.

Two plays stick out to a lot of people from Monday's game. With 30 seconds left and OKC trailing 98-96, Westbrook wasn't able to get the ball to Durant on the wing so with the shot clock winding down, Westbrook fired a 3. It rimmed out. Then with the Thunder down 101-98 and needing a 3 to tie with 10 seconds left, Westbrook took the ball on his own and airballed a 3-pointer with six seconds left as Durant stood waiting by the arc.

Curious, indeed.

Westbrook was 12-30 from the field while Durant was 8-18. Russell Westbrook took 12 more shots than the two-time scoring champion.

Curious, indeed.

However, having watched Westbrook a lot of this season, I can't bag on him too much for it. That's the player he is. If you want the All-Star Good Russell Westbrook, sometimes you have to live with the do-it-myself Bad Russell Westbrook.

I think a big reason behind Westbrook's ball-hogging was he sensed what I was seeing. The Thunder didn’t look comfortable in their own offensive skin. They were throwing the ball away, taking dumb shots, forcing things and not moving off the ball. So he tried to take over a bit. A lot of the stagnant offense is probably the fault of the point guard, but Westbrook is the new hybrid point like Derrick Rose and Deron Williams. He looks for his own as much as he looks for others.

And it’s difficult for Westbrook to turn it on in spurts. That’s would be the ideal Westbrook. The guy that can sense that moment where his team needs his offensive spark and give it for a few minutes and then turn the game back over to the natural rhythm and flow. But he’s not there yet. He’s just 22 and he’s still figuring all that out.

Thing is, to get Good Russ, sometimes you live with Bad Russ. He’s not a perfect player. He’s still developing. This wasn’t his finest hour but he was trying to win the game. That’s what he had on his mind. Did Durant need a few more touches? Absolutely. Does Westbrook deserve a bit of guff for what went down in Game 4? Definitely. But this isn't something to really get too worked over about. Yeah he took some questionable shots but that's Westbrook. He desperately wants to be the guy taking those shots. He's hit a bunch of big ones for the Thunder this season and I can promise you, every Thunder fan thought his 3 with 30 seconds left was about to drop through the bottom of the net.

In the same ways you can say Westbrook lost Game 4 for the Thunder, he almost won it for them as well. That's life in the Russell Lane. There are things he definitely should've done different. If Scott Brooks could transfer five of those bad Westbrook shots to Durant, the Thunder probably win the game. Can't deny that.

Westbrook is the ultimate "No No No Yes Yes Yes!" player. He takes a bunch of shots that while in flight you're saying are horrible but then you're clapping as it swishes through. And in those big moments, he lives to take big shots. The problem with that is, he has Kevin Durant standing on the wing waiting for the ball as well.

With Westbrook, it's all about accepting what he is. It's like the scene in Band of Brothers when Speirs tells that one guy crying in the foxhole, "The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you're already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to function." Westbrook isn't a "true" point guard. He never will be. The sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you'll be able to appreciate what he is. A darn good basketball player that still has some room to grow.
Posted on: April 26, 2011 2:44 am
Edited on: April 26, 2011 3:00 am
 

Denver steps up and holds OKC off for a night

Posted by Royce Young



Closing, it's hard to do.

That's the lesson for the young Thunder. A lesson they get a day to think about while they get ready for Game 5 in Oklahoma City Wednesday.

Oklahoma City saved its most erratic, incomplete game for Monday night, which of course was the first opportunity to finish off the Nuggets and move on to the next challenge. That sounds like I'm taking something away from the Nuggets, which I don't intend to. But I think we've gotten to the point where it's understood that the Thunder are the better team. On Monday, Denver finally found a bit of a groove and the Thunder lost theirs.

The Nuggets got a bunch of big contributions from Danilo Gallinari, J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Ty Lawson -- you know, that formula that worked so well after the Melo trade -- to take down OKC 104-101 and force a Game 5. They talked about not wanting to let OKC dance on their home court Monday night. And they played like it. 

The game was close throughout, and while the Thunder piled up stops, they never took advantage and stretched out to a lead of much more than four or five points. OKC played with fire the entire night, eventually letting the Nuggets turn on the propane with an 11-0 run to end the third and start the fourth quarter. Denver led through the fourth, with the difference swelling to as much as 10 with two minutes left. The Thunder wouldn’t die easily, though, with Kevin Durant dropping a couple 3s, Russell Westbrook scoring on a drive and Serge Ibaka hitting a late jumper. But the hole was too big for the Thunder to climb out of.

Westbrook had a chance to tie with 3.5 seconds left, but his desperation heave didn't fall. And finally, after five tries, the Nuggets beat the Thunder. Once again OKC's defense held Denver in check (the Nuggets shot just 38.6 percent) and the Nuggets struggled at the line. But between taking care of the ball and a couple big shots from Smith and Gallinari, Denver built up a lead in the fourth quarter for the first time in the series.

OKC almost looked like it was taking a win for granted early on. The intensity and razor sharp focus was missing in the first half, and the Thunder missed about 15 opportunities to stretch the game out to double-digits. They were getting the stops they needed, but just couldn't convert. Fifteen turnovers, bad shots and forced offense really ended up doing OKC in.

But again, this was new territory for them. That decisive closing game is the toughest to win because you're playing a desperate opponent. And OKC couldn't make enough plays to get it done. 

The Nuggets did just enough to hang on and get a little of their mojo back. Is it enough to bring the series back to the Rockies? Eh, probably not. But it's at least a start. You can't be the first team to ever come back from 3-0 if you don't win Game 4. That would be step one. And the Nuggets took it Monday.
Posted on: April 25, 2011 3:48 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 4:10 pm
 

Series Reset: A first chance to close for OKC

Posted by Royce Young



The Narrative: Most would agree, the series is over. Now it's just about how it will wrap up. Teams leading 3-0 in a playoff series are 57-37 all-time. Meaning that most end in sweeps, but a decent amount do go 5. After that, the percentages really dip.

So that's where this series stands. Most didn't see it being in this place when it started, or especially after a hotly-contested Game 1 in Oklahoma City. But the Thunder have displayed almost an air of dominance the last two games, completely stifling the Nuggets' high powered offensive attack. Game 3 was close by the end, but if Kendrick Perkins doesn't make a bonehead pass, OKC wins by a comfortable margin.

It's just obvious that this is a horrendous matchup for the Nuggets. Not only do they struggle guarding the Thunder, but offensively, they can't find an edge. Two of their best scorers in Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari have gone missing in action as OKC's defensive scheme has limited their open looks and chances to drive to the rim.

A series is never over until its over -- the Boston Red Sox taught us that -- but it's a long, long shot for the Nuggets. They're playing for pride tonight. But it's a big moment for the young Thunder. This is their first chance to close a series. That's always a tough game to win. And sometimes that pressure can affect things.

The Hook: Nobody likes to concede a series on their home floor. Nobody likes to get swept. If you don't think there's still a good amount of motivation there for the Nuggets, well, you're wrong. This team already came back with its back to the wall after the Carmelo Anthony deal and proved there's not any quit in them. They're going to come out and fight.

Again, it comes back to if the Thunder can seize the opportunity and close out an opponent in their first crack at it. Winning the decisive game is the toughest one. You're playing a desperate team that's going to pull out every stop to stay alive. And this Thunder group is young and hasn't ever presented itself with this opportunity. The Thunder took control of Game 3 which was the one that swung the series entirely in their favor which was a big step. Closing out is the next, and much more difficult one.

The Adjustment:
The Nuggets just have to figure out a way to score against the Thunder. Thus far, it's been a struggle. OKC has bottled up everything the Nuggets prefer to do offensively and held their head under water. There aren't any open jumpers. No open looks from 3. Nothing easy in the paint. Not a lot of opportunity to run.

Somehow Denver has to find chances for easy points. It's been well documented that the Nuggets don't have a closing, go-to scorer to rely upon. Well, they aren't getting one in the next 10 hours, so they've got to figure something out. It's time to get Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler involved in the offense. It's time to figure out a way to score in the second half. That's on George Karl more than anyone else.

The X-Factor: How about an easy, obvious one? Free throw shooting. You could make a case the Nuggets gave away Games 1 and 3 at the free throw line (15 misses in Game 3). There's really no reason to miss out on those opportunities. As difficult as it is to score on the Thunder, giving away open 15-foot looks with no one guarding you is really inexcusable.

The Sticking Point: I don't get the sense the Nuggets are ready to quit. There are a lot of prideful veterans on that team that are more than ready to put up a fight and make it hard on OKC. But at the same time, it just seems that Denver is entirely overmatched. Not only are the Thunder better, but almost every matchup leans their way. It's been proven over and over again the last five meetings between these teams stretching back into the regular season.

Denver can win this one but it'll happen for two reasons: Either the Nuggets play a perfect game and get big contributions from Gallinari, Chandler and J.R. Smith or the Thunder wilt a bit under the pressure of closing out a series. Otherwise, if everything holds form, the Thunder's walking out of Denver with the series.
Posted on: April 25, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 2:18 pm
 

OKC is suffocating the league's top offense

Posted by Royce Young


In just about every way you could measure it, the Nuggets had the league’s best offense this season. They led the league in points per game (107.5) and offensive efficiency (109.5). In terms of eFG% they were second at 52.56 percent. They topped the league also in free throw rate (36.7).

But in the three games versus the Thunder? That offense hasn’t been anything close to what it was.

In the three games thus far, the Nuggets are averaging just 95.3 points per game. Their overall field goal percentage is down almost six percent, their offensive efficiency is just 98.76 and while their free throw attempts have held firm, they’re making way less.

Stop and think about that. The top offense in the entire league is scoring more than 10 points fewer per 100 possessions. In a game where things are getting slowed down to around 90 possessions a game, that means the Nuggets offense is simply being suffocated.

The Thunder reestablished themselves as a good defensive team after the Kendrick Perkins trade but this is just ridiculous. The Nuggets were universally praised for their ball movement and team play after the Carmelo Anthony trade but against OKC in these three games, they just haven’t found any sort of rhythm. Really the best they looked was the opening minutes of Game 1 where they started 7-7 from the field. After that, they’re shooting close to under 40 percent.

What’s been the big deal? Why have the Thunder stifled Denver’s high-powered, balanced attack? I think it’s pretty simple. OKC has done two things: slowed the Nuggets down and let them run their offense.

What do I mean by the second one? I think it’s been a subtle plan by the Thunder to allow the Nuggets to try and run their usual stuff. The Nuggets love to work inside-out and run weakside screens to free up shooters, while also using penetration to score at the rim. The Thunder haven’t necessarily tried to shut that down. The reason being because Oklahoma City knows it can stop what the Nuggets are good at.

Look at the numbers. Denver has attempted 80 shots at the rim in these three games (26.6 per game). By comparison, OKC has taken only 56. Denver has taken 25 shots in the paint (OKC 26). Where Denver isn’t getting shots is in the mid-range where its only taken 64.

So OKC is letting Denver get shots inside, but here’s the interesting part: the Nuggets are shooting just 58 percent at the rim and only 28 percent inside the paint. Absolutely nothing is easy for them right now. Between Serge Ibaka’s giant paw swinging at everything tossed up inside and Kendrick Perkins’ pushing people down everywhere, scoring in the paint is not easy versus the Thunder.

Perkins' foul on Wilson Chandler to start Game 2 said it all. You won’t walk to the rim against us. During the regular season, Denver shot 60 percent at the rim and 38 percent inside the paint. In terms of mid-range, the Nuggets haven’t been that much off their normal numbers. The 3-point line though, is another story. During the series so far, the Nuggets are shooting just 30.9 percent from 3. From the non-corner spots, just 29 percent. And like I said, this is a team that loves its 3-point shot.

What’s been so impressive is how the Thunder have been able to plug the paint and contest everything inside, while also recovering on shooters. That’s the gift of Perk, really. He handles Nene one-on-one and everyone else stays home on their shooter. Look at Ty Lawson. He hit 10-11 from deep in a game the last week of the season. So far this series, he’s only taken four 3-pointers. Danilo Gallinari is just 3-9. Raymond Felton, 2-10. Even with his little streak to end Game 3, J.R. Smith is only 4-13.

Like I said, the Thunder have sort of embraced what the Nuggets do well and just stopped them from doing it well. Scott Brooks saw that the matchups favored his team and instead of trying to outsmart George Karl with some genius adjustment, he just put his guys out there to stop Denver from what it does.

The Thunder’s defense is the reason this series is 3-0. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook won Game 1. The defense took 2 and 3 pretty much entirely. I re-watched the fourth quarter from Game 3 and it’s just unbelievable how confused the Nuggets look in trying to run their offense. There is just no open man to be found anywhere. Everything is contested. Everything comes after three or four perimeter passes that lead no where.

OKC held Denver without a point for almost five minutes in Game 3. And quietly on the other end scored a basket here and made a free throw there. The lead suddenly was eight with four minutes to go. That’s what good defense does and that’s the reason people talk about it winning things. And right now, the Thunder’s playing the kind of defense that can win things.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com