What now for the Nuggets

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With the season coming to an unspectacular end against the hated Lakers, it’s already time to start thinking about next year.  The first step in this process is to figure out who is going to be back next year from the current roster.  Most of the players are under contract for next year as well, but tough decisions will have to be made on some vital role players.

Chris Andersen – After a 2 year drug suspension, he was given a second chance in Denver, and made the most of it.  He signed for the league minimum, just hoping for a chance to get a few minutes here and there.  He did much more than that, becoming one of the league’s best shot blockers.  The birdman was rejuvenated and averaged career highs in rebounds and blocks with 6.2 and 2.5 respectively.  He is a fan favorite, and if not re-signed will probably draw a backlash from the fans.  Bird has already came out and publicly said he wants to stay in Denver.

“What better place to play than at home?” Andersen said. “I love this city, I love this state. I appreciate everybody in the whole town for backing us and helping us prove others wrong.”

Chris Andersen will take a hometown discount to stay in Denver because of his friends and family in the city and doesn’t want to leave his comfort zone.  I’m expecting a 3-4 year extension somewhere around 5 million a year.  This would be similar to the contract fellow spark plug JR Smith received earlier this year.  This is Denver’s most important signing and they’ll be sure not to let him fly away again. Bird will be back.

Linas Kleiza – Linas has been one of the most hot and cold players this past year.  He was set to get a big extension before the season started but it all fell through once Stan Kroenke decided to do everything possible to get and stay under the luxury cap (including defensive player of the year, Marcus Camby).  By not getting the deal done and talks going early into the regular season, it put pressure on Kleiza to perform.  He didn’t respond well at all, and regressed from the 07-08 season.  He wasn’t the 3-point threat anymore and his defense was exploited time and time again.  He’s a good player to have on the bench.  He hustles and runs the floor well getting easy dunks in transition.  He’s only 24 years old, but still needs a lot of work to be a starter in this league.  He is a restricted free agent, meaning the Nuggets can match any other team’s offer.  The Nuggets should just wait and see what the market is for Linas.  If the Nuggets can get Kleiza for 3 million, they should jump on it, but if the L-Train is commanding 5+ million, just let him go and ride the pine somewhere else.  Earlier this week Kleiza said,

“I’m going to be playing in the NBA next year, that’s what I want to do but if a great opportunity comes along, you got to look at it.”

He doesn’t seem too enthusiastic in staying in Denver.  The only way he could stay, is if he accepts a 1 year 2.7 million dollar offer.  While he may say he wants to stay with the Nuggets, he needs a change of scenery, and I think he knows it.  Both the Kings and Knicks have expressed interest in him in the past.  I think he will end up in New York with a 2-3 year deal, despite them saving money for Mr. LeBron.  Bye Kleiza

Anthony Carter – He will be back.  Book it.  AC was signed right before the 06-07 playoffs and George Karl immediately fell in love.  He became the Nuggets starting point guard alongside Allen Iverson and was set to be the starting point guard this year until some hometown guy came back.  Even though AC was sent straight to the bench, he still was getting 20+ minutes every night.  He is an adequate backup but with a jump shot worse than Shaq’s, the offense struggles when he’s on the floor.  Carter is usually pretty good at running the offense, but there are times when he just makes you scratch your head and wonder what the hell he’s doing out there (as noted in the LA series).  Carter told the press, “I want to stay here.  The family’s happy here. We’re going to make this our home. We don’t want to move nowhere, but we got to see what the situation is and go from there.”  He knows he’s not going anywhere.  He will sign for 1 year at the league minimum, mostly because no one else would want him.  Carter staying.

Dahntay Jones – Dahntay is known as the Nuggets’ defensive stopper as well as a dirty player.  He started most of the year at SG but was outplayed every night by JR Smith and was just a placeholder until JR would enter the game.  Dahntay is a horrible offensive player and not really that good of a defender.  George Karl has already came out and said that JR Smith will be the starting 2 guard next year.  He had one great series in the playoffs against the Hornets, and a few good games against the Lakers.  After shutting down the league’s top PG in Chris Paul, someone is going to take a chance on him and give him a 2-3 year deal.  This team will not be the Nuggets, and they won’t be too upset about it.  Dahntay said about the issue, “I think my services may be wanted by other people, but I enjoyed my role here, and the guys I’m able to play with and able to have an impact on the organization. I’d be willing to come back (in that role). . . . I have to do the best thing for my family.”  Obviously, he doesn’t want to stay.  He’s already talking in the past tense, and staying in Dever is just an afterthought.  Sonny Weems should get Dahntay’s 10+ minutes per game.  Weems looked lost out on the court this year with the Nuggets but was a dominant force in the NBDL, leading the Colorado 14ers to the championship, despite splitting time between them and the Nuggets.  I can see Dahntay Jones in a Phoenix or Indiana jersey come next year.  Both these teams like to run the floor (taking advantage of Dahntay’s athleticism), and need that hard nosed defensive first player.  Adios Dahntay.

Other Players – Johan Petro has a qualifying offer of almost 3 million for next year…..yeah right, this will never happen.  The only thing Petro has going for him, is that he’s tall.  He might be able to catch on as a 12th man in the NBA or he could go back to Europe.  Jason Hart’s contract is also up after this year.  He’s not making much money and could just be used to fill out the roster.  I still don’t think he’s going to come back.  Petro and Hart, Gone.

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Tags: Anthony Carter Chris Andersen Dahntay Jones Denver Nuggets Jason Hart Johan Petro JR Smith Linas Kleiza

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