Tag:Denver Nuggets
Posted on: August 26, 2010 1:50 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2010 4:51 pm

J.R. Smith involved in choking incident

Nuggets guard reportedly chokes player during pickup game at Nuggets facility.
Posted by Matt Moore

It would appear, ahem, that Earl Smith felt he had to choke a dude. J.R. Smith, the mercurial/embattled/heavily-tattooe
d-to-a-ridiculous-degree guard for the Denver Nuggets was investigated by the police yesterday in an incident at the team's training facility, according to FanHouse's Sam Amick . Smith was apparently being guarded in a pickup game by a former D-League player not currently in the NBA who was instructed by coaches to get physical with the gunner.

A source in the facility told FanHouse that in the ensuing fight, "J.R. just lost it. He tried to choke the kid, and the kid called the cops."

Right, then.

Let the Sprewell references begin!

Smith had been rumored to be on the trading block this week anyway, with his biggest advocate, Mark Warkentien no longer with the team. Police confirmed their investigation to Amick, but no charges were filed. With this most recent incident, you have to wonder if it was the last straw for the Nuggets and if they will now simply take whatever offer they can get for Smith. Of course, the flip side of that is wondering who is interested in picking up a limited player with shot-conscience problems who just tried to choke a guy in practice. Not exactly ratcheting up the trade value, there, Earl. But at least Smith's $6.3 million contract is expiring this season. That should increase his value to a point they can at least ship him somewhere.

You'd think that Smith would have learned to stay out of trouble, but behavior like this is simply not something the Nuggets can afford, not with their team in transition and their star looking for a way out.  The Nuggets' offseason from hell continues.

Be sure to follow NBA Facts and Rumors on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA

Posted on: August 26, 2010 12:44 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2010 12:45 pm

Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke passes team to son

Posted by Royce Young

How do you become a 30-year-old professional franchise owner? One way: Have your dad give you his team. Or both of them for that matter.

Current Denver Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke recently won a bid to buy the St. Louis Rams for a reported $750 million. And because of NFL rules, a team owner isn't allowed to retain control of teams in other sports located in other cities. That's a problem for Stan who owns both the Nuggets and the NHL franchise, the Colorado Avalanche.

So Kroenke has passed both the Avalanche and the Nuggets to his son Josh, a former Missouri Tiger basketball player who happens to be only 30 years old. Kroenke must pass operational and financial control of those teams to Josh by the end of the year. He must give up his majority stake in the teams by December 2014. So while Josh doesn't technically "own" the teams, he's in charge of them. Kind of like when your dad buys you a car for your 16th birthday. It's your car, but it's really his. Or something like that.

Josh will serve as governor of the NHL team and set the budget, but team president Pierre Lacroix will retain control over personnel decisions. But given the fact Josh clearly has basketball interest and knowledge, he'll likely have a larger role with the Nuggets. We've already seen him getting involved as he met personally with Carmelo Anthony and was a very big part of hiring new general manager Masai Ujiri.

The Nuggets are in an interesting situation all around with the front office shuffle, the Carmelo situation and now the ownership changing hands. It's hard not to wonder how this transition will take shape and how Josh will insert himself into the Nuggets business. He's appeared proactive early, so with new hire Ujiri, it'll be curious to see how much power is yielded to the new general manager.

The elder Kroenke also owns the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer and the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League. In addition, he is the largest shareholder in Arsenal of the English Premier League. Josh doesn't get to cash in on those two however, as they stay with Stan.
Posted on: August 26, 2010 11:23 am

Denver hires Masai Ujiri as GM, but who is he?

"" Posted by Royce Young

And the man tasked with figuring out what the heck to do with Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith is... Masai Ujiri!

Ujiri has reportedly been hired by the Nuggets to replace Mark Warkentein and is likely set to sign a contract sometime today. Most haven't heard of him, other than the past few weeks when his name started popping up for this position. But Ujiri got his start in scouting and slowly climbed the front office ranks before finally landing the big chair in Denver.

But who is he and what has he done? A quick look at his background:
  • First the most important thing about Ujiri: How do you say his name? It's pronounced "Ma-SIGH u-JEER-e".
  • Ujiri comes to Denver from Toronto, where he has spent the last three years in the front office as an executive. As assistant general manager to Bryan Colangelo, Ujiri was a key in the Raptors utilizing international players like Carlos Delfino, Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani.
  • Ujiri is a native of Zaria, Nigeria and has played an active role there in promoting basketball. He started the well-known Top 50 Bigman Camp eight years ago and also served as a director for the NBA's Basketball Without Borders Africa program. Solomon Alabi, who was a draftee of Toronto this past year, was a participant in the the camp.
  • It could be important that Ujiri is a former employee of the Nuggets.  Ujiri was with Denver from 2003 to 2007 and previously served as an unpaid scout for the Orlando Magic in 2002-03. With both the Nuggets and Magic, Ujiri served primarily as an international scout. Most people say Ujiri already has a good relationship with Carmelo Anthony, which obviously is Ujiri's No. 1 priority.
  • So if you're wondering, no Ujiri was not responsible for the Nuggets disatrous pick of Nikoloz Tskitishvili in 2002 because he was still working for Orlando at that time. You cna exhale now, Nuggets fans.
  • Ujiri went to prep school in Seattle, went to junior college in North Dakota, played college basketball at Montana State, then spent six years playing professionally in Europe, with stops in Belgium, Germany, England, Greece and Finland. So you could say Ujiri is well-traveled.
  • He's young. At just 39, Ujiri is one of the younger general managers in the league. He's not the most qualified GM in terms of experience, but most agree in the basketball world that he's a bright, upcoming front office star.
  • Obviously Ujiri is going to be seen as Plan B by most since David Griffin turned down the Nuggets job, but Ujiri was on Denver's radar from the very beginning. His ties to Denver obviously helped, but the Nuggets have been interested in expanding their international scouting and Ujiri obviously has expertise in that area. 
  • In an interview with NBA.com about Basketball Without Borders, Ujiri said this about the growth of international basketball: "You cannot miss it. There's no running away from it. You have to cover everywhere. Basketball globally has gotten better, the skill level has gotten better. What some of the international kids are doing in the NBA is amazing."
Before, Warkentein shared power with Rex Chapman and Bret Bearup, so nobody really knows exactly how much Ujiri will be in control of in Denver. Maybe that was one of the hangups with David Griffin. But the Nuggets are in the midst of a complete shift as former owner Stan Kroenke passed the team to his son Josh, who is only 30 years old. So the Nuggets are young in the front office for sure and by most accounts, in good hands with Ujiri.
Category: NBA
Posted on: August 25, 2010 12:01 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2010 9:14 am

NBA Pop Quiz: What teams might take a tumble?

Posted by Royce Young

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

  What teams are set for a drop in success?

Maintaining excellence for an extended period of time in professional sports isn't easy. Even the big spending, big market clubs have to make the right moves, retain players and keep putting a product on the field or floor that can win.

There are ebbs and flows with teams every season and in the NBA this year, we might begin to see a little shuffling with some of the familiar successful faces moving down the line in the standings while others move up.

So who could be moving down? Who might be dropping off a bit in 2010-11? Here are four candidates:

Phoenix Suns
It seems like every year, we're all waiting for this to happen. But every year Steve Nash defies the laws of aging, has a terrific season and keeps the Suns moving. But there was a constant variable in all of those seasons the Suns saw success - Amar'e Stoudemire. For the first time in eight years the Suns will be without Stoudemire, a player that worked perfectly in Phoenix's up-tempo style and Nash's pick-and-roll ability. Now in 2005 the Suns were without Stoudemire who underwent microfracture surgery, but that was with Nash still in his prime and with a ton more depth.

This time, the Suns replace Stoudemire with Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick, two capable players but obviously not to the caliber of Amar'e. If Phoenix intends to stay in the top tier of the West, a player with have to elevate his game. Maybe that's youngster Earl Clark. Maybe Robin Lopez continues his improvement. Maybe Warrick becomes the new Amar'e playing alongside Nash. Hedo Turkoglu is a new addition, but judging by his play in Toronto last year, he might not be a big help.

Phoenix will still be a good team and a likely playoff team, but with Nash's age and the downgrade in talent on the roster, the Suns might be looking at the beginning of the end.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Didn't they lose someone? Oh right, Delonte West and Shaquille O'Neal. Talk about starting over, you guys. Oh yeah, and that other guy too.

The Cavs are at an impasse they didn't see coming. Others might have seen the writing on the wall with LeBron, but The King's departure was a brick in the face to Cleveland fans everywhere. Any time you lose the face of your team, the face of the league and the best player on the planet, you're rebuilding by default.

The Cavs do have some quality players still, because instead of laying dynamite around the roster, the Cavs have decided to try and strive for mediocrity. And in the East, most of the time average is enough to get to the postseason. But this is a team that had won 60 games the last two seasons. The Cavs lost their star, their coach and their general manager. It's a time to start over for the Cavs and Anthony Parker and Joey Graham probably aren't going be the pieces that maintain the regular season excellence in Cleveland.

Toronto Raptors
Bryan Colangelo tried. He tried to shuffle things around and put together a respectable roster after the loss of Chris Bosh that could possibly stay where they were. But let's face it: Even with Bosh, the Raptors weren't exactly in the upper echelon of the East. With a failed trade for Tyson Chandler that would've moved Jose Calderon and a mishap in trying to sign Matt Barnes left the Raptors with a young roster that will struggle to win games.

Colangelo did do himself a favor by moving Turkoglu's contract, but he also gave Amir Johnson too much money and trading Marco Belinelli for Julian Wright doesn't do much for anyone. Toronto may be in the basement in the East and while it's not like they're falling from the top of the East, the Raptors are likely headed for a drop.

Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets aren't actually on this list... yet. But they will be, if (or when) they lose Carmelo Anthony. Reality is, any time you trade a superstar, you never get an equal return. I mean, how could you? Who's going to give back a top 5-8 player in the league or three players that equal Anthony's ability?

If Denver hangs on to Anthony for the season, it'll be business as usual for the Nuggets. They'll be good, they'll make the playoffs and will have a chance to advance a few rounds. But if they lose 'Melo, then it'll likely be a trip into mediocrity for Denver. The team hasn't enough talent in Nene, Chauncey Billups and Kenyon Martin to stay afloat, but in the West where it's win 50 or stay home the last two weeks of April, it would be tough for the Nuggets to do that. And of course reports are that J.R. Smith might be moving out as well. The Nuggets are facing a potential restructure, and while the roster is in tip-top shape now, it likely won't be come November.

Posted on: August 25, 2010 10:07 am
Edited on: August 25, 2010 10:18 am

Report: Griffin turns down Nuggets GM offer

Report: Nuggets must turn to plan B after Suns assistant turns down GM offer.
Posted by Matt Moore

Well, back to the drawing board. ESPN's Ric Bucher is reporting that David Griffin has turned down the offer of general manager extended by the Nuggets last week. Bucher reports that Griffin turned the offer down due to a paltry salary (less than the $1 million baseline for GMs) and due to confusion over the hierarchy in Denver. Josh Kroenke, son of Nuggets' owner Stan Kroenke, met with Carmelo Anthony last week to try and smooth out the situation with him requesting a trade. Meanwhile, advisor Bret Bearup is considered heavily involved in personnel decisions according to multiple media sources. With that kind of structure in place, along with Melo's possibly iminent departure , the job obviously lost its luster to Griffin.

Raptors executive Masai Ujiri is apparently next on the list. The question has to not only be what kind of a position the general manager will have with so many hands in the pot, but what the direction of Denver is going to be over the next few years. With Anthony leaning towards greener zipcodes, J.R. Smith on the block , and the future of Chauncey Billups in the air as well, Denver's not exactly looking like the most attractive destination. So this could take a while. But it is an NBA general manager position, and as such, they should be able to get the position filled at some point. The problem is that in a delicate time, with training camp getting closer each day, the Nuggets are still without an official general manager. And that's only got to make the situation that much more unstable for Carmelo.

For an interesting look at the work Ujiri has done, check out this HoopsAddict interview with him from June.
Posted on: August 25, 2010 8:56 am
Edited on: August 25, 2010 8:59 am

Shootaround 8.25.10: Damp in Miami?

Posted by Royce Young
  • If you didn't watch "Jordan Rides the Bus" last night, make sure to catch one of its 500 re-runs. Absolutely terrific stuff. My favorite tweet of the night about it though came from SLAM's Russ Bengtson: "Kobe's calling the Dodgers right now."
  • Bobcats GM Rod Higgins says Erick Dampier might be traded rather than waived: "It's going to take a while," Higgins said. "Now that we've got another center, waiving him for the sake of waiving him doesn't make a whole lot of sense for us. We're going to continue to talk to teams to try to improve our roster."
  • Want to watch the best dunk-off of all time? Watch the best dunk-off of all time:
  • Brett Hainline of Queen City Hoops on Kwame Brown: "Kwame's signing puts the Bobcats at 4 centers on the squad - one of whom I have confidence in taking a shot that is not a dunk (take a bow, Nazr). While it was certain the Bobcats are going to waive/trade Dampier, this makes it appear unlikely that he will be re-signed following his eventual waiving, as he had previously indicated an interest in doing."
  • Matt Hubert of D-League Digest writing on Hornets 24/7 about Mustafa Shakur: "But the biggest takeway from this signing is the fact that the Hornets appear to be turning over a new leaf under new general manager Dell Demps, formerly of the Austin Toros. His D-League experience may prove to open new doors for an organization that previously had very little involvement with the D-League, and the signing of Shakur could be just the beginning."
  • John Krolik of PBT with an outstanding breakdown of LeBron James off the ball: "According to Synergy Sports, LeBron took 125 field goal attempts off of a "cut" last season, and converted 101 of those attempts. That's an 81% conversion rate. That, folks, is the definition of unstoppable, and that's how LeBron shot 65% from the field in international play. LeBron is great at scoring in isolation or pick-and-roll situations. He may be just as good at making plays for other in those situations. But he's unquestionably at his most effective when he can build up a head of steam and attack the rim against a defense that isn't waiting for him."
Posted on: August 24, 2010 3:32 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2010 3:33 pm

Nuggets have offered David Griffin GM job

Posted by Royce Young

In one of those, "Should we be looking deeper into this?" type of stories, Sam Amick of Fanhouse reports that the Nuggets have made their selection for general manager, offering the position to David Griffin last week. But Griffin hasn't accepted. Of course, this makes one wonder, why?

Amick says financial negotiations are believed to be the hang up, but it's hard not to think that maybe Griffin, a former executive with the Suns, sees a tough rebuilding situation in Denver coming. Maybe he knows something more than about Carmelo Anthony's intentions. Or maybe it's just simply that the compensation isn't what he had in mind. Whatever the case, the Nuggets are now potentially looking at Plan B, Masai Ujiri.

Whoever accepts the job whether it be Griffin, Ujiri or somebody else, the situation in Denver appears to be a difficult one. The team is in great shape on the surface. The Nuggets have a star, have a good fanbase, have a good market, have had recent success on the floor and have a quality roster ready to compete this year.

But underneath all of that is a franchise that is looking at losing its face, probably trading away one of its top scorers and two of its cornerstones are unrestricted free agents next year. So this is definitely a time of transition in Denver.

Which is why it's slightly hard to believe this is just a financial issue with Griffin. It's possible Griffin knows he's walking into a tougher-than-expected circumstance with Denver and therefore wants more money and more guarantees. If Griffin already knows he's losing Carmelo, maybe he's reconsidering or at least, wanting more job security.
Posted on: August 24, 2010 11:27 am

Young Kroenke meets with Carmelo

"" Posted by Royce Young

The storm on the Carmelo Anthony front has calmed for a bit. Nothing new has been dropping and no new rumors to report. Wait, there is one that surfaced late yesterday via Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post who said he's hearing the Clippers might be a possibility for Anthony. But other than THAT, not too much going on.

So this was probably a good time for the Nuggets to talk with Carmelo. And that's what executive Josh Kroenke did, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo. Kroenke attempted to sell Anthony on the Nuggets, Denver and the team's future while pushing for Carmelo to sign the three-year extension that's been on the table for months.

Wojnarowski also said the Rockets are the likely frontrunner for Anthony and that the Knicks have likely been overstated. One other interesting note is how this thing might go down.

Wojnarowski writes:
Anthony still believes he can get the maximum possible money from re-signing with the Nuggets now, sources said, with his sights on engineering a trade to a preferred destination later. For him to opt out of his contract at the end of next season would be an immense risk. With league owners determined to shorten the years and lessen the money on max contracts in the next collective bargaining agreement, Anthony and his representatives know they could cost themselves tens of millions of guaranteed dollars.
Anthony is looking at a sign-and-trade, which the Nuggets likely don't prefer. With a sign-and-trade, the team is a bit handcuffed because its leverage goes out the door. Instead of being able to get up from the table and say, "Fine, we won't trade him period," other teams negotiating know the Nuggets have to get the player moved. So with the sign-and-trade, Denver would probably get back less.

But there still is the possibility that no one seems to be considering and that's the option that the young Kroenke made an impression on Anthony, sold him on Denver's future and that Carmelo wants to stay with the Nuggets over uprooting and going somewhere new. From what we've heard lately, that's probably not happening, but it's obvious that the Nuggets haven't given up quite yet.
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