Not only are the Denver Nuggets dealing with the Carmelo Anthony controversy, the Nuggets are also faced with another difficult decision with starting power forward Kenyon Martin.
Martin, who has been with the squad for the previous six seasons, is once again battling an injury and if he plays this season it won’t be until late in the season. However, he has an expiring contract worth more than $16 million and would be extremely valuable to a team cutting salaries (and to the Nuggets if they wish to lower their salaries with the new CBA coming up next summer).
K-Mart has missed 157 games during his tenure with the Nuggets, but came back strong the previous couple of seasons. He was one of the top defenders at power forward, he added more weapons to his offensive arsenal, looked fine athletically and was the heart and soul of the Nuggets defense.
During the 2008-09 training camp, and after the Nuggets dealt Marcus Camby, Martin made it known that he was now the captain of the defense. He proved it with his pick-and-roll defense, helping teammates out when they got beat, playing aggressive defense and not being afraid to send an opposing players to the ground.
Two years later and that aggression will be sorely missed at training camp and to start the season. And Denver is left with the difficult decision with Martin. The truth of the matter is its doubtful he will ever be able to play the way he did the two previous seasons and he may never match that play again. And depending on the success of the team, the Nuggets may look to deal him to add a player with a brighter future or somebody that can help the team in the playoffs. And towards traded deadline there will be a few players available:
- Andre Igoudala – Iggy is like a miniature LeBron James, he is matched by few athletically, he can score, rebound, pass and is one of the top perimeter defenders in the NBA. The only downfall to his game is shooting the ball, but interesting enough he can hit the shot when it counts late. He also is one of the rare iron man in the NBA, missing only six games in his six year career and all six were in the 2006 season. Iguodala doesn’t have a very cap-friendly contract, he is due to make more than $56 million over the next four seasons and the Philadelphia 76ers have been rumored to be willing to deal him. Interesting enough, new head coach Doug Collins is really high on Elton Brand and isn’t as excited about Iggy. One issue may be that Iguodala’s and rookie Evan Turner wouldn’t work well next to each other. If the Sixers are struggling come the trade deadline they may consider trading Iguodala, and a package of K-Mart, Arron Afflalo and picks may make it work. He would be a modest replacement for Anthony or would be a great player to put next to Chauncey Billups and Melo. Not to mention he is only 26 and is worth the money.
- Andris Biedrins – Denver was trying to snag him earlier this season after he was coming off arguably his most frustrating season of his career. Biedrins, who is only 24, ended up in Don Nelson’s doghouse when he struggled at the free throw line (4 of 25 to be exact). However, if you look at the 7-footers past he still has a bright future ahead of him. In the two previous seasons, Beidrins nearly averaged a double-double in back-to-back seasons. He also is one of the top rebounders in the NBA and grabbed 27 rebounds in a contest in 2008. The downfall is Biedrins doesn’t bring a lot on offense, and is more skilled at putbacks and dunks. He also has been plagued with injuries of late (missing 69 games over the last two seasons) and he isn’t cheap. Biedrins is due to make $36 million over the next four seasons and if he struggles this next year you can bet Nelson would be willing to trade him. And with the Golden State Warriors switching hands they may be willing to make a trade for K-Mart. Biedrins is quick enough to guard the pick-and-roll and is also a good defender, partly due to his length, to defend in the post. He would push Nene over to his original position (power forward) and give Denver a good enough and big enough frontcourt to match the Los Angeles Lakers.
- Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince – With the Nuggets wanting to keep Billups they could put some of the old Detroit Pistons together. And old is the perfect word for the trio (Billups will turn 34 years old on Sept. 25, Prince is 30 and Hamilton is 32). However, this trio does knows how to win. Hamilton is one of only two players to win in college (Connecticut in 1998) and in the pros (Pistons 2003) and he is one of the toughest players to guard in the NBA. Not to mention one of the most consistent players in the League as well. But he has dealt with injuries, missing 51 games the last two seasons. And he has a contract ($38 million/3 years) that the Pistons are just dying to rid themselves of. Prince would be the ideal sixth man for any squad, with his versatility, experience and hustle. Prince and Martin are probably two of the most versatile defenders in the League. While Prince isn’t big enough to guard bigger players in the post, he is a good ballhandler and shooter and can kill opposing big man that way. With the Pistons most likely struggling, making a deal for Martin’s expiring contract would help them in the long run. Hamilton could start for the Nuggets or he’d backup Afflalo, but Prince would be more valuable coming off the bench.
- Antawin Jamison – Jamison is one of the few pros-pros in the NBA and also is a former Tar Heel. He also is probably the most likely player the Cleveland Cavaliers would move. He has two years left on his contract that would pay him nearly $30 million. He just turned 34 and is still a very skilled and valuable player. He is a good shooter for a big man, solid rebounder and doesn’t make mistakes on offense. The downside is he is very similar to newly acquired Nugget Al Harrington and isn’t a very strong defender. But that doesn’t mean a deal isn’t likely, if Denver is still fighting for the playoffs they could deal Martin to get Jamison.
Topics: Andre Igoudala, Andris Biedrins, Antawin Jamison, Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Don Nelson, Doug Collins, Elton Brand, Evan Turner, Golden State Warriors, Kenyon Martin, LeBron James, Marcus Camby, Philadelphia 76ers, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince