Losing Altitude

by Dwayne D.

The Los Angeles Lakers are retaining their key players from their championship run from a year ago, in turn making them the front runners to repeat as NBA Champions.

The San Antonio Spurs have decided to go younger and not be the retirement home of the NBA. Along with that, the big three for their team is getting healthy once again.

The Portland Trailblazers not only kept their biggest draft pick around for five more years, they even crippled the Utah Jazz into having to give up one of their best players to keep one of the best free agents in 2009.

While these teams are getting better for the 2009-10 season, the Denver Nuggets are going backwards. Is the altitude dropping fast in the Mile High City?

Denver was the #2 seed in the jam-packed Western Conference this past season, and they took their game to new heights in the postseason before bowing out to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. The Nuggets had the energy, the passion, and got the leadership that was missing in Chauncey Billups when he was acquired to his hometown team after the Allen Iverson trade. The Nuggets were not just high scoring from their big stars, the supporting cast and the bench was fun, energetic and highly skilled. Despite losing to the Lakers in six games, many fans in Denver and many basketball purists thought that if the Nuggets could make one big splash in free agency, they would actually be the team to beat in the ever-so competitive Western Conference.

Instead of getting better, the Nuggets may have lost some of that punch.

Dahntay Jones, the defensive stopper who did a respectable job in defending Kobe Bryant in the conference finals, left to go play for Indiana. Linus Kleiza, one of the better bench players in the game who regained his confidence and caught fire in the playoffs and late regular season, signed a 2 yr, $12M deal with the Greek basketball team, Olympiakos. Kleiza was due $2.7M from the Nuggets as a restricted free agent, but an average of $6M a year to play overseas was too good to pass up.

Does this cripple the Nuggets? No it does not, in fact they are still a good and flashy team, they still have J.R. Smith, Chris “Birdman” Andersen, and if he can get the opportunity, Renaldo Balkman. The depth though does take a blow though, and as the other teams out West get better, and with the East slowly improving, the Nuggets will definitely have to make sure health is an issue, and that their players keep their fouls and emotions in check. Otherwise, it could be a long winter in the Mile High City.

    • Dei
    • August 11th, 2009

    I heard about Kleiza leaving but forgot about Dahntay Jones…I wonder who they’re gonna get to replace those two…should be interesting out in the west this year…

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