The Nuggets are a Player again.
Instead of emphasizing a new logo, new colors, new uniforms and a fresh coat of paint in the arena, the Nuggets finally can begin accentuating the positives of the actual team.
And how about a new slogan? “Can-Do Nuggets at The Can!’’
The Nuggets just traded three expensive veteran players and got nothing in return.
Those were the best two “naught’’ deals in the franchise’s ABA and NBA history.
The Nuggets just signed two of their players to $201 million worth of contracts.
Those may be the team’s best quinella pacts since a previous resurgence in 2004.
The Nuggets just drafted a rookie with a bad back and a star with a gimpy hip.
Those could be the Nuggets’ best pair of risk-reward procurements since ... forever.
Those are all reasons for us to get excited and giddyap.
NBA relevancy is back in Denver.
As the only media person who has covered the Denver Rockets/Nuggets since the early 1970s, I was only as enthusiastic about the team in the offseason in 1974 when Larry Brown and Doug Moe arrived as coaches; the next year when David Thompson and Monte Towe joined the Nuggets (It could have been David Thompson and a beach towel); when the Nuggets joined the NBA in a merger in 1976; in 1984 after Kiki Vandeweghe was traded for three quality veteran starters and first- and second-round draft picks; in 2008 when the Nuggets were coming off a 50-victory season and would go on to trade Allen Iverson to bring home Chauncey Billups, win 54 games and push the Lakers to six games in the Western Conference Finals.
This Nuggets’ offseason has been one of the most scintillating.
To be certain, the Warriors aren’t slacking off. Rather, they re-signed Kevin Durant and signed Boogie Cousins. The Lakers have signed LeBron James, and L.A. is germane again. The Rockets will sign Carmelo Anthony, although I hoped he would hold an “Indecision’’ press conference and proclaim: “I have decided to take what little is left of my talents to South Beach.’’
Paul George is staying with the Thunder; the Suns and the Mavericks improved in the draft; All That Jazz has the authentic rookie of the year; and nobody knows what to make of the Spurs’ situation with Kawhi Leonard.
Nevertheless, the Nuggets will be A Team To Watch in the Wild, Wondrous West. They should burst out for more than 50 victories for the first time since George Karl stupidly was dismissed. If not, they will be busts for the sixth straight season. But Josh Kroenke, Tim Connelly, Arturas Karnisovas, Michael Malone and, lurking in the background but always at the forefront, Enos Stanley Kroenke have done their over-due diligence and will provide Colorado with a young (average age 23.7), but experienced, skillful, offensively proficient, defensively capable, exhilarating and fun bunch.
Caveats linger, though.
In one Isaiah (Thomas, astonishingly), out the other (Whitehead, who was with the Nuggets for one minute), and the Mysterious Case of Michael Porter Jr. Does The Joker play like a $148 million Ace? Will Will Barton live up to the “legend in his own mind’’ status as a starter? Is Jamal Murray an all-star point guard waiting to erupt? Does Paul Millsap stay healthy this year? Can Gary Harris complete his game? Where thy goeth, Juan “And Only’’ Hernangomez? Will the trio of Torey, Tyler and Trey be supporting role players? Does Kentucky’s Vanderbilt contribute?
Isaiah Thomas, not to be confused with the original Isiah Thomas, believed two seasons ago that teams would back up a “Brinks Truck’’ to sign him for $200 million after an inspiring season with the Celtics. But the Nuggets only had to drive up in a cantaloupe truck to sign him for $2 million. After continued serious hip issues, Thomas lost his place in Boston, Cleveland and Los Angeles, and lost two zeros.
MPJ, not to be confused with MJ, could have been the No. 1 pick in the ’17 draft if he hadn’t been forced to attend college. Even with a back injury that cost him almost the entire season, he expected to go in the first five picks last month. Yet, he cascaded to the Nuggets at 14.
If IT and MPJ are special players this season, the Nuggets will be genuine contenders.
If they are part-timers and/or flops, the Nuggets still will make the playoffs.
At long last, the Newggets aren’t the disregarded team in the forgotten time zone.