13 People who turned their backs on the Denver Nuggets

These former Nuggets did not leave on the best terms.
Denver Nuggets, Andre Iguodala
Denver Nuggets, Andre Iguodala / Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
11 of 13

3. Nick Van Exel

Van Exel was coming off an All-Star season with the Lakers in 1998 when the Nuggets acquired him a trade for Tony Battie and Tyronn Lue. The 6’1 guard was in his prime and eager to lead a team. Denver was the worst franchise in the league but believed Van Exel could help them turn things around.

He was outstanding in the Mile High City, but it did not result in wins. Van Exel averaged 17.7 points, 8.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 0.8 steals in 37.5 minutes per game during his time in Denver. Ultimately, he got sick of losing and requested a trade.

The Nuggets granted his request at the 2002 trade deadline when they packed him with Raef LaFrentz, Avery Johnson, and Tariq Abdul-Wahad to send to Dallas for Tim Hardaway Sr., Juwan Howard, Donnell Harvey, and a first-round draft pick. Denver struggled the following season, and Van Exel regretted his trade demand.

The Nuggets needed a superstar and did not get one until Carmelo Anthony arrived. They had to put more talent around Nick Van Exel era but struggled to add it. He was not breaking them out and turned his back on the franchise to further their drought.