Part 10 of 14
For the first time in a long time the Denver Nuggets have money to spend on the free agent front.
The problems are 1) the potential lockout, 2) the lack of quality in free agency and the 3) the Nuggets taking care of their own free agents.
Starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo (restricted free agent), starting center Nene (player option), starting power forward Kenyon Martin (unrestricted), backup shooting guard J.R. Smith (unrestricted) and backup small forward Wilson Chandler (restricted) are all soon to be free agents. And if the Nuggets can keep at least three of them it will be a good step in the right direction.
On the open market, there is no definite top free agent that would help the Nuggets take the next step – but there are a few players they should consider (at the rice price):
- David West, New Orleans (player option): West is a great low-post scorer with a career average of 16.4 and coming off of a season in which he averaged 18.9 points and 7.5 rebounds. However, it was also a season in which he missed 12 games and the playoffs due to a left knee injury. He is a skilled big man with a great 20-foot jumper. By no means is he Carmelo Anthony down the stretch, but he at least gives the Nuggets a go-to guy down the stretch. The problem is he is a undersized (even more so than Martin) at 6-foot-8 and he is turning 31 in August. While he’ll help the Nuggets get better, he won’t make them a title-contender.
- Tayshaun Prince, Detroit - Prince, who just turned 31, isn’t going to demand a ton of money in the right situation. He has great size and versatility and can defend at least four positions on the court. He has very good ballhandling skills for a player his size, great range and his leadership will be much needed in Denver. No doubt teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are keening in on Prince so it would be tough for the Nuggets to lure him to Denver. But with recent success from former Piston players like Afflalo and Chauncey Billups have to help – at least a little.
- Rodney Stuckey, Detroit (restricted) – Another former Piston, only Stuckey has some upside to his game and he would be the perfect addition for the Nuggets. He is talented enough to play both guard positions and his size helps him defend shooting guards. His size, explosiveness and ballhandling skills are top-notch and makes him a poor man’s Dwayne Wade. He doesn’t have a lot of range on his jumper, but he would be an ideal 6th man for the Nuggets. Just think of a mix between Smith and Raymond Felton.
- Kris Humphries, New Jersey (player option) – A year ago, Humphries was a scrub on the Nets roster and was playing for his fourth team in seven years.
However, for the first time in his career Humphries got playing time and he rewarded the Nets by averaging a double-double (10 points, 10.4 rebounds). Now he will get paid for his hard work and no doubt the Nets will do what they can do to keep Humphries. The former Gopher won’t provide the Nuggets with much scoring, but he would help the team on the glass and will outwork opposing players – much like Nick Collison or Udonis Haslem do for their championship-contending teams.
- Michael Redd, Milwaukee – Redd used to be one of the top scorers and shooters in the League. He has a career scoring average of 20 points and has a career 3-point shooting average of .383. However, Redd’s last three seasons were shortened due to injuries to his MCL and ACL. Due to the injuries, Redd won’t return to his All-Star level but he still is a top-notch shooter in the League and can hit the trey consistently. Redd and Karl have a special bond that goes back to Karl’s days in Milwaukee. Will that be enough to bring Redd to Denver at a cheap amount?
- Jose Juan Barea, Dallas - Barea is undoubtedly playing the best ball of his career and no doubt Karl is taking notice. Nuggets fans have witnessed Karl’s infatuation of playing point guards together. Barea doesn’t have great size and if put next to Ty Lawson – no doubt the Nuggets would be undersized. Barea can do everything on the floor, shoot, pass, take charges and has quickness to beat most defenses. Now if only he wasn’t 6-foot…
- Shannon Brown, Los Angeles Lakers (player option) – Brown is an intriguing player, who didn’t have a chance to show what he could do until he went to Los Angeles. And even with the Lakers it seems Brown still lacks a fair chance. Two seasons ago, he averaged a career-high 20.7 minutes a game and it would be interesting to see how he responds with more minutes. Brown’s athletic ability is one of the best in the League and he is a great role player. He will likely opt out of his contract in search of more money and the Nuggets maybe one of the best suitors out there with money to spend.
- Josh McRoberts, Indiana – McRoberts is coming off of a career season and has a great all-around game for a power forward. He similar to a younger Brad Miller, with range to extend the floor and being a great passer for a big man. Combine that with athleticism and McRoberts is a valuable player off the bench. He isn’t a great defender or rebounder, but at the right price and with the right around of minutes and McRoberts would thrive.
- Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Milwaukee (restricted) – Mbah a Moute may be one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He is one of the best defenders in the League and can lock down most forwards and guards in the League. He doesn’t bring a lot on the offensive side of the ball, but his effort and toughness makes it worth a gamble for any team that has a coach like Karl, who rewards effort.
- Sasha Vujacic, New Jersey - Vujacic is like Smith-lite mixed with Manu Ginobili super-lite. Vujacic doesn’t impact a game with his scoring – like Smith can, but he does it by getting under opposing players skin and shooting. He also plays both guard position and has a knack for the ball. He’s a great ballhandler and can play point guard and is fairly good shooter. The only issue is, like Smith, he can potentially hurt his team as well as help him.
Tags: Arron Afflalo Carmelo Anthony Chauncey Billups Dallas Mavericks David West Denver Nuggets Detroit Pistons George Karl Indiana Pacers J.R. Smith Jose Juan Barea Josh McRoberts JR Smith Kenyon Martin Kris Humphries Los Angeles Lakers Luc Richard Mbah A Moute Manu Ginobili Michael Redd Milwaukee Bucks Nene New Jersey Nets New Orleans Hornets Nick Collison Raymond Felton Rodney Stuckey Sasha Vujacic Shannon Brown Tayshaun Prince Ty Lawson Udonis Haslem Wilson Chandler