Posted on: December 19, 2011 8:17 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 8:29 pm
Posted by Royce Young
One of the last big pieces of the free agency puzzle has finally found its home. And it's right where it was last season.
According to ESPN.com, guard Arron Afflalo has re-signed with the Nuggets for five years, $43 million. That means between Afflalo and Nene, the Nuggets have spent some $110 million this offseason. But it also means they've inked a long-term core for the next number of seasons.
Afflalo, 26, was a restricted free agent and considered by many to be maybe the top guard on the market. Multiple teams coveted his services, but the Nuggets were planning on matching any offer and with no one signing Afflalo to an offer sheet, Denver went ahead and took the lead on its own.
The Nuggets had a great need for Afflalo with Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith stuck in China for the time being. Denver recently acquired Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer, but Afflalo will likely fit in as one of Denver's top three players this season. Between him, Nene, Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari, Denver has a group fo young players to build around.
Obviously it's a good signing for Denver, but the question is whether or not Afflalo is really worth that kind of money. Five years, $43 million is a pretty major number for a guy like Afflalo that averaged 12.6 points per game and a PER 13.61. And that's by far his best season to date. He's an elite perimeter defender and a long athletic guard, but more than $8 million a season for him is a high price tag.
Not to say he's not worth it to Denver, because he probably is, especially in their situation. Like I said, Afflalo might have been one of the top two or three free agent targets period in this whole class. But a lot of that was probably because he was seen as a value pickup.
Now the question becomes if Denver can pay out Nene, Afflalo and then add Ty Lawson and Gallinari who are up for new deals soon. And now how much do you have to pay those two? The Nuggets are really committing to this group, but it's decidedly without a bonafide star play. Maybe Gallinari is that guy, but maybe not. The team seemed to thrive on that team-ball aspect last season, but is it good for sustainable success?
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:46 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 6:52 am
By Matt Moore
When trading a superstar, you look at two options. You can try and aim for a similar, albeit lesser star, or you can aim for financial flexibility and young players. When the Denver Nuggets traded Camelo Anthony last February, they received young players and financial flexibility, but they also recieved something better. Choice.
The team was not so devastated by Anthony's deparure as to be forced into a pure rebuilding episode. They had young players like Arron Afflalo, Ty Lawson, and got back more in the form of Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov. But they also had cap room to bring in someone, or, if they wanted to bring back Nene. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that's just what they did, inking the 29-year-old to a 5-year, $67 million deal which puts him at less per year than Marc Gasol, and which is less than the reported four-year, $70 million offer from the Nets. In locking up Nene, the Nuggets are entering into exciting but dangerous territory.
The Nuggets can compete for the playoffs right now. If Lawson continues his progression and Gallinari becomes a full-fledged star and young players like Jordan Hamilton and Kenneth Faried contribute anything, along with Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer, who the Nuggets acquired Tuesday in a trade with Dallas, then Nene allows them to push for as high as a five-seed in the West. With the Lakers undergoing signs of a possible implosion and Dallas clearing space for 2012, along with San Antonio's age finally wreaking havoc on them, the Thunder really only stand as a major long-term challenge in the West, provided the Clippers don't get Chris Paul. A deep, talented, versatile team with depth, size, experience, youth, athleticism and range? The Nuggets have everything you'd want in an all-around collection of talent.
The Nuggets are expected to zero in on restricted free agent Arron Afflalo, according to Berger, and as a result, will have a killer lineup of Lawson-Afflalo-Gallinari with some combination of frontcourt players beside Nene filling out the roster. They'll still have long-term flexibility, with only Al Harrington standing as a major impediment and will still have the amnesty clause as a weapon to use to clear space. Most of that cap space will be absorbed by extensions for Lawson, Gallinari, and potentially Mozgov, but that doesn't alter the fact that they can use those contracts and players to upgrade or go in different directions.
Still, the re-signing of Nene has its drawbacks. They are a win-now team. They are not aiming for the next superstar, they're trying to grow one out of either Lawson, Gallinari, or, less likely, Nene. They're trying to catch lightning in a bottle and that's a difficult act in the NBA. It's said that the worst thing you can do is end up in NBA purgatory, a constant 5-8 seed playoff team who never winds up going anywwhere. But the Nuggets might get to have their cake and eat it, too. With the kind of young roster they have, and a viable anchor in Nene to bolster the interior, Denver can have it both ways.
Masai Ujiri caught flak from everyone for waiting on the Melo deal last fall, seemingly squandering opportunities to get better deals. Instead, not only did he take in a king's ransom for Anthony, he has converted that haul and the cap space it afforded into a team that isn't struggling to fill roster spots, one that can take risks and make savvy moves, a team on the rise that can also compete now. There's no telling where Ujiri will take the Nuggets over the next several years, but unlike so many franchises beholden to the fate of one player, the Nuggets have options, now.
Wherever they're going, it's their decision which path to take.
Posted on: April 28, 2011 3:08 pm
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.