A ton of free agents in the market this year who are very intriguing, most of whom are locks to re-sign with their old times.
One high-profile name who could move on: 36 year old Kobe Bryant, who hasn't seen the All-NBA team in a couple of years and who may not get the kind of money he's looking for from the Lakers.
Paulinho Buboltz gets a max deal from Indiana and it's not surprising, considering he averaged 17 points and 9.5 assists a game last year. It appears he's finally taken that step to the next level and while he's not a superstar yet, he's fast approaching it.
The suspense over Kobe Bryant ends fairly early on in free agency when he re-inks with the Lakers for $12.3 million and one more year. I'm not too thrilled to see him back in Purple and Gold, but the Lakers faithful are obviously ecstatic, as are the NBA brass, who definitely wanted him to return to the league's marquee franchise.
Boston made it a mission to re-sign Al Jefferson and they did, rewarding him with a 6 year, $88.1 million contract to keep him with the Celtics. Smart move by the new defending champions, as I think Beantown would've burned had they had let him escape.
We get our man the day after Jefferson re-ups with Boston, signing Kyle Smith to a 5 year, $30 million deal. That same day, the Toronto Raptors steal 3rd year, former #1 overall pick David Anyan away from the Jazz on a max mid-level exemption deal (5 years, $32 mill and change). Utah's going to rue the day they let Anyan away, as the 22 year old SF has the kind of ability that just screams superstar and I mean Kobe Bryant level superstar. To tell you the truth, I almost made a play for him instead of Smith, because Anyan's the complete package. What a steal by the Raptors, who now make me look like I've overpaid for Smith. How good is Anyan? So good he's a probable canidate to be the starting SF. In Toronto.
Tyrone Dotson picks up a nice 4 year, $12.5 million deal to stay a Spur on the same day Caron Butler migrates to Minnesota on a one year, $6 mill and change deal and Mike Bibby joins Utah for one year at $5 million. Money better spent on Anyan, but it's better for us, really.
I punch up our defense by signing Thabo Sefolosha to a two-year max low exemption deal. As you know, I've always been a great admirer of Thabo's skills, so I'm thrilled to add him to our bench.
To complete our team, I bring Peter John Ramos back to Denver on a one-year min-sal deal. My thinking is that by returning Ramos, who played one year for us in 2010, I'll have the luxury of moving Lindsey Williamson to the D-League, where he'll probably be an everyday starter or at least one of the first players off the bench, rather than an end-of-bench guy like he is right now.
This brings us to $9.5 million over the cap, just under the $10 million I predicted to Mr. Dyer.
Two days later, the Lakers get Vince Carter on a min-sal deal and Jermaine O'Neal jumps ship to Detroit on the same terms. Jason Terry bolts to the Rockets for $4.5 million and one year, leaving Dallas in something of a bind as the Mavericks try to stay one of the West's elite teams.
Crazy offseason and in my opinion, the Raptors have once again made themselves the team to beat in the East and the league as a whole. I'm kind of kicking myself for not investigating what Anyan wanted earlier, but on the other hand, there's also no guarantee he would've chosen us over Toronto. I mean, let's be realistic here. The Raptors won the title two years ago and were one missed shot away from going back to the Finals, where they almost certainly would've squashed Memphis and become the first repeat defending champions since I joined the league.
Compare that to the Nuggets, who don't have nearly as distinguished a track recrod, though we're still one of the elite teams in the West, by my own estimation.
And if Anyan -had- chosen the Raptors over us while were battling Toronto for him, we'd have run the risk of missing out on Smith, who loved playing for us in the summer league and who was said to be generating considerable interest.
So it works out. Having Smith is better than having no one of that kind of tantalizing potential at all.
Great training camp as Larry Brown and the rest of the staff declared the starting PG position an open competiton and Kirk Hinrich and Brandon Brooks went at it hard every single day. Hinrich won out, as you might expect, but he told the Denver Post that having Brooks to push him made him an even better player than he's ever been. That's good news, especially since we were worried about age catching up to him.
Kyle Smith busted his tail off in training camp and showed significant improvement as well, which was a relief as I privately worried he might slack off now that he had his big contract.
Much to my chagrin, Mateen Yeaton was the one low spot of camp, as the coaches reported he came in with much less intensity than he'd shown in previous years. Maybe it was a mistake to trade for him after all.
Lindsey Williamson was assigned to the Colorado Timberjacks, where he was named the starting C. I really think it'll be better for his development if he goes down there.
2014 Denver Nuggets Opening Day Lineup
PG Kirk Hinrich
SG Mateen Yeaton
SF Patrick Pastner
PF Emeka Okafor
C Dan Jacobson
6th Brandon Brooks (PG/SG)
7th Kyle Smith (PG/SG/SF)
8th Phillip Gill (SF/PF/C)
9th Thabo Sefolosha (PG/SG/SF)
10th Steven Caspers (SF/PF/C)
11th Shaun Livingston (PG/SG)
12th Peter John Ramos (PF/C)
Inactive Willie Green
D-League Lindsey Williamson
We finally get some preseason love and are picked as the #2 team in the West, behind the habitually underachieving Portland Trailblazers. Duez Walker is buried on the Traiblazer bench to no one's surprise, but what is a small shock is that Marcus Williams lost the starting PG spot to second year guard Jerian McCrary. Although I like the starting five as always, the bench will continue to plague the Trailblazers, particularly a woeful lack of big man depth.
The Raptors are the consensus pick to win the East and win at all, but in typical glue-sniffing fashion, the preseason press picks the Knicks to be the #2 seed in the East. ...Yeah, let's see New York actually make the playoffs period first, okay?
I'm most worried about the Lakers in the West. They're still the most dangerous team in the conference in my opinion, especially after adding Vince Carter as their 6th man. Dallas is going to be hurting with Jason Terry gone and I highly doubt Memphis is going to be able to repeat the magic of last season's Finals run.
What I'm pretty sure about is that our team is a hell of a lot better than it was last year and that we have depth in spades, something we've lacked in previous seasons.
2006 Golden Scribe Nominee
2006 Golden Scribe Winner
Best Non-Sport Dynasty: May Our Reign Be Green and Golden (CK Dynasty)
Rookie Writer of the Year
Dynasty of the Year: May Our Reign Be Green and Golden (CK Dynasty)