The Denver Nuggets once again threw a curve ball at the trade deadline.
Barely three months after overpaying Nene $65 million the Nuggets had a change of heart and a lucky break as they sent the 29-year-old big man to Washington for young center JaVale McGee, who is restricted free agent after this season.
The move also freed up the Nuggets enough money to sign Wilson Chandler to a $30 million contract for 5 years.
Of all the moves that Masai Ujiri has made this is the most baffling, especially considering that Denver could have easily moved Nene after the Carmelo Anthony when his value was higher. And they also could have easily balked on bringing Nene back before the season and started the rebuilding process before the season. But instead they overpaid to keep Nene only to trade him months later. Very baffling.
One of the biggest reason for the move has been Kenneth Faried’s development and the Nuggets brass not wanting to part with the pieces they got in the Anthony trade. They pretty much did exactly what George Karl said he didn’t want them to do – go younger.
Ujiri stated that the Nuggets ‘wanted to go a little bit younger’, but if Denver wants to be a playoff team or a competitive team the Nuggets need to get more veterans not more youth. Youth has been one of the reasons why Denver has lost so many close games and have let so many games slip away.
Karl has been vocal about keeping the Nuggets competitive and not rebuilding. He stated numerous times that the Nuggets are at the same level the Oklahoma City Thunder. But that apparently is no longer the case as the Thunder beat the Nuggets pretty easily and showed that OKC is at a different level.
Which seems to be alright for Ujiri, who stated ‘Young guys, throw them in and go out and play and maybe get your face kicked a little bit but get some experience and then we know who they are. This is a year that we can afford to do that.’
He also stated that they are 100 percent confident in McGee, ‘ We have done our homework. We have talked to tons of people. And we all do crazy stuff, and I think he will grow up. I think he is really excited about the new opportunity to come here and come play on a team that runs, that plays a style that he likes, and just a new home.’
Of course on paper McGee should help. He is averaging 11.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.1 blocks. However, his blunders have been more apparent for the 10-32 Wizards. McGee has shown numerous times to have below average basketball IQs and doesn’t bring a winning mentality.
- He was involved in Gilbert Arenas’ shooting antics and was suspended by the Wizards for two games.
- Last season in a blowout loss to the Chicago Bulls, JaVale McGee received a technical for celebrating a triple-double.
- He also tried to dunk from the free throw line and missed the dunk. Of course it didn’t matter because the Wizards were losing by 25 with 16 seconds left in the game.
- And this season, after missing a basket McGee hustled back to get on defense without realizing his team still had the ball.
This move showed that the Nuggets are more important for the future than this season and there might be some doubts that Karl is fully on board with the move. He seemed to take the trade harder than anybody else and judging by how he handed out minutes Thursday night he is not going to cater to the Nuggets younger players. Al Harrington led the big men in minutes with 26 and Chris Andersen not only saw the floor but played 15. Faried, Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos saw a combined 48 minutes.
If the Nuggets are looking towards the future, there might be some doubt that Karl is patent enough to help this team develop and if he is the right coach for this Nuggets squad that is now in transition. Maybe it is the ‘sky is falling mentality’, but it makes one think.