State of the Cap: Denver Nuggets
2008/09 Denver Nuggets Payroll: $76.9 million
2008/09 Estimated Salary Cap: $58 million
Roughly $18.9 million over cap
Last season, Marcus Camby finally stayed healthy and responded with a Defensive Player-of-the-Year award. To follow that up, Camby played even better this season, setting a career high in rebounding with 13.1 per game and added a league best 3.6 blocks. The often-injured center is aging like fine wine. His 79 appearances were by far the most he has ever had. Camby has $15.6 million left on his contract over the next two seasons, which is an excellent bargain for one of the league’s better centers. I don’t know how much longer he will stay healthy at age 34 but the Nuggets will enjoy it while it lasts.
Linas Kleiza still has one year remaining on his rookie contract for a cheap $1.8 million. The young forward really established himself this year as a tough player with good range on his jump shot. Kleiza averaged a respectable 11.1 points on 47% shooting and even hit a few threes here and there. He looks like he will develop into a pretty good role player and Denver should try to keep him after next season.
After a somewhat encouraging stint last year, Nene Hilario has come crashing back down to Overpaidsville. Nene couldn’t get things together in 2007-08, appearing in only 16 games. That means he has played in just 81 games the past three seasons combined. Nene has never averaged more than the 12.2 points and 7 rebounds he did last year, which makes me wonder why he will be paid $43 million over the next four years. There must have been a lot of booze involved when that deal was created. The Nuggets can only pray that Nene will give them a season good enough to sucker another team into trading for him.
Kenyon Martin returned from the dead and once again became a productive player, to the surprise of many. Martin’s 12.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 53.8% shooting were decent numbers. Now, if he was being paid half of the $46 million he’ll receive over the next three seasons, I might call it a good deal. Unfortunately, that is not the case. At least Martin is back on the court again.
Denver gave Carmelo Anthony a boatload of cash to be the team’s superstar for many years to come (he still has four years and $65.7 million left). After his DUI arrest and the two-game suspension he received for it, that future is now in doubt. Add in the Knick fight and a few marijuana charges that were closely linked to Anthony and you have a pattern of behavior that isn’t expected of a well-paid star athlete. There is no doubt of Anthony’s skills on the court as his 25.7 scoring average, 7.4 rebounds, and hot shooting attest. However, rumors of Anthony’s departure have started to surface because of the controversies. That is bad news for someone who is supposed to be the cornerstone of the franchise.
This season, Nugget fans saw classic Allen Iverson. He led the team in scoring with 26.4 per game, added 7.2 assists and 2.0 steals, and he shot the ball pretty well. Although, for over $20 million dollars a year, you would expect better results for the team than an 8th seed in the playoffs, even in the stacked West (and the Nuggets were lucky to get that). It’s clear now that Iverson and Anthony together will not be enough to climb the playoff ladder. Minor adjustments probably won’t make much of a difference and they can’t really afford to keep super sub JR Smith. With a sky-high payroll, it might be a good time to begin dismantling.
Iverson is entering the final year of a large contract and he can still play well, so he is certainly a tradable asset. If the Nuggets decide to keep Anthony, they can use Iverson in a trade to save money and gather building blocks for a new team while they wait out the horrible contracts of Nene and Kenyon Martin. If they trade Anthony for something decent and try to make one more run with Iverson, it will probably end up a disappointment. Iverson doesn’t have enough left in the tank to carry a team deep into the playoffs, especially in the West. George Karl’s team would have to learn a lot of defense in a hurry and I don’t think that is going to happening. As proof, they once scored 147 points in a game this year and LOST. Look for a big name to be moved from the Nuggets this summer. Something has to change.
I still can’t believe Denver scored 168 points in regulation against the Sonics. I like how Seattle scored 116 points, yet lost by 52. I like how Marcus Camby had a triple-double in 26 minutes. I like how Denver could have been outscored 31-0 in the fourth quarter and still would have won 127 to 116. I could look at the box score from this bizarre game for hours and keep coming up with quirky stats. What fun!
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While he was overpaid, he had testicular cancer, that is something you cant help, i still have to give him a break on that, its not like it was an injury or something