HANG TIME WEST – Oh, and by the way, you’re probably going to want to be concerned about the Nuggets as well.
For all the understandable attention going to the Lakers for acquiring Dwight Howard and the 76ers for landing Andrew Bynum and to the Magic for that spectacular 2 ½ twist with a full gainer into a bellyflop, losing sight of the Nuggets on the periphery of the deal is a mistake.
Denver was already on the rise, the way it went from stage fright last postseason to pushing the Lakers to a Game 7 before being eliminated. Watching the Nuggets grow into a postseason factor in time-lapse photography was a statement of potential. They had that. Now they have this.
Andre Igoudala came from the 76ers as Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, a first-round pick and a second-rounder went to Orlando. The Nuggets got better and saved money that should allow them to get a new deal with point guard Ty Lawson.
The Nuggets also got options, which is also a problem for the rest of the league. George Karl with several possibilities among forwards and wings and the ability to play big or small? Karl can take capitalize on basketball chemistry and general manager Masai Ujiri can take advantage of trade chips, so Denver is in great position for another step forward after what would have been a 47-win season with a typical schedule.
Igoudala can guard the shooting guards Afflalo used to and be one of many options at small forward. Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer, Igoudala, 2011 first-rounder Jordan Hamilton, 2012 first-rounder Evan Fournier – that’s a trade waiting to happen. Plus, Kenneth Faried at power forward, backed up by Anthony Randolph and maybe one day backed up by Quincy Miller, who will get snapped in half playing there at 210 pounds but has serious potential for a second-round choice. The Nuggets have options all over the place.
Still to be determined is whether JaVale McGee, the team’s center, will show every night at – gulp – $44 million for four years. But the Nuggets can play fast or play big. Developing teams want options to get better, and Denver has plenty with a coach who knows how to use them and a GM who knows how to flip them. Talk about growing into a postseason factor.