Sixteen years ago on July 15, the Denver Nuggets franchise took a turn for the worse.
It was Carmelo Anthony Part I, only thing is then the Nuggets got nothing in return. Instead they let Dikembe Mutombo, their franchise player, walk and got zero in return.
Mutombo was defensive stalwart, receiving Defensive Player honors in 1994-95 and was the main factor in Nuggets stunning George Karl’s top-seeded Seattle Supersonics in 1993. In the five-game series, Mutombo blocked 31 shots and he also almost led the Nuggets past the Utah Jazz, before losing in seven games.
As the cornerstone of the Nuggets for five years, Mutombo averaged a double-double in each season and led the League in blocked shots for three straight seasons.
He left the Nuggets after receiving a five-year deal for $55 million to play for the Atlanta Hawks. There was a three-team trade rumor that would have sent Charles Barkley to Houston, Mutombo to Atlanta and Robert Horry and Sam Cassell back to Denver.
Ironically, the Nuggets traded Marcus Camby, the only other payer to earn Defensive Player Of The Year in a Nuggets jersey, the exact same day only 12 years later.
While the Nuggets at least got something in return for Camby, it didn’t seem like a lot. They dealt Camby, a 2010 draft pick (Willie Warren) to the Los Angeles Clippers for a $10 million Trade Exception and the Clippers 2010 draft pick (Andy Rautins). At the time it looked like the Nuggets were just trying to dump salary and start rebuilding, however, the Trade Exception helped return Chauncey Billups to Denver. Camby has struggled to stay healthy and return the level he played at with the Nuggets.
And of course, on July 15, 2004 the Nuggets thought they landed a Mutombo-level of player on defense when they traded three future first-round picks (Renaldo Balkman, Marcus Williams and Joey Graham) for Kenyon Martin, who also signed a $91 million/7-year contract.
Martin struggled with injuries during his time with the Nuggets, only playing more than 70 games twice during his seven years in Denver. He also missed over 200 games during that time. However, in 2009 his defense was key to helping the Nuggets advance to the Western Conference Finals. He played key defense against David West, Chris Paul and Dirk Nowitzki in the playoff run.
It seems likely him and the Nuggets are going to part ways after the NBA Lockout is lifted.
And of course, last season (on July 15) Al Harrington signed a 5-year/$33.4 million deal to play for the Nuggets and their lack of commitment to Martin upset the veteran power forward.
Tags: Al Harrington Andy Rautins Atlanta Hawks Carmelo Anthony Charles Barkley Chauncey Billups Chris Paul Dallas Mavericks David West Denver Nuggets Dikembe Mutombo Dirk Nowitzki George Karl Houston Rockets Joey Graham Kenyon Martin Los Angeles Clippers Marcus Camby Marcus Williams Renaldo Balkman Robert Horry Sam Cassell Seattle Supersonics Utah Jazz Willie Warren